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Rebellious Macedonian village stages carnival

Saturday - 1/19/2013, 10:28am  ET

This picture taken Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013 shows a villager dressed up as a beggar with a baby, mocking Greece's crippled economy, during the carnival in Macedonia's southwestern village of Vevcani. Said to date from pagan times 1,400 years ago, the Vevcani carnival, with its colorful floats and masked revelers, has grown in popularity over the last decade and attracts thousands of visitors for the celebrations on St. Vasilij Day to welcome in the New Year according to the Julian calendar. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

KONSTANTIN TESTORIDES
Associated Press

VEVCANI, Macedonia (AP) -- The tiny Macedonian town of Vevcani boasts its own constitution, its own currency and a passport emblazoned with a golden coat of arms.

They are a tongue-in-cheek expression of the village's historical defiance of authority -- and were born of a symbolic declaration of independence. But beneath the mockery lies a real rebellious streak that has coursed through Vevcani for decades and spawned violent protests, diplomatic incidents and run-ins with the law.

That spirit of rebellion reaches a climax every year during the village's annual carnival in January, where villagers don costumes that poke fun at the world around them. The sharp satire leaves nothing untouched, targeting the national leadership, politics, religion and social issues. Most recently it has taken aim at Macedonia's crisis-stricken southern neighbor, Greece.

With its colorful floats and masked revelers, the festival -- said to be 14 centuries old and date from pagan times -- has grown in popularity over the last decade. It attracts thousands of visitors to St. Vasilij Day celebrations on Jan. 13, welcoming in the New Year according to the Julian calendar.

"We have had (masks of) Muslims, priests, world leaders, terrorists," said Mayor Pero Ilieski, adding that people shouldn't be offended by the outr
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