Introducing You to “Generalka”

Have you ever heard of this small yet beautiful country located in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula named Macedonia?

Stunning nature all around populated with warm and welcoming people. The citizens will make you feel like home offering traditional Macedonian food created with much love and passion. Loud and friendly with a lot of weird habits, never starting their day before drinking the first Turkish coffee in the calmness of their own home. The family is a cherished unity and so nurturing habits of wholesomeness and taking care of other people is very important.

Within the first few days of any visit, you will learn that the traditional yet common prejudices exist, such as the men having the last word in the home and being dominant and usually found in his natural habitat drinking beer with his friends. On the contrary, ever since their young age, the girls are thought as being dominant in keeping the household clean and always preparing the lunch for the family. As the new generations are approaching, the struggle to break the chains and break the usual stigmas continues.

Church of St John the Theologian – at Kaneo, Ohrid, Macedonia

The Cleaning Tradition Named Generalka

However, one tradition tends to remain unchanged “The Generalka Day”. This might be unfamiliar to you but it is a long-lasting tradition. It usually happens once a month or before important events in the home such as Christmas or Easter. Usually, the mother with the daughter come together to thoroughly clean the ENTIRE HOME.

Yes, you heard me well, the entire home.

It is a long and painstaking process and it usually looks like a bomb dropped into the house/apartment before it’s all shiny and clean again. Starting by rearranging all of the closets and throwing into the trash everything that is unnecessary or old, to wiping and cleaning every surface in the home. It`s not an usual site seeing a woman climbing on one or even two chairs, gazing over the broadly opened window trying to make them seem perfect and spotless. Usually, in this process, natural products such as vinegar, alcohol, lemon, and baking soda are used.

They tend to be eco-friendly plus abrasive too. The cleaning recipes are handed over from one generation to another like a well-kept hidden secret. The first thing before cleaning the windows is to throw the curtains into the washing machine and then when the entire Generalka is done, they are put right back on. All the natural plants are cleaned  with fresh water only, wiping and dusting their leaves off. Next thing is cleaning the carpets and the wooden floors. Specially designed cleaning products and a game called “making every corner as clean as your bed” can begin.

Last but not least, is cleaning the dust that has accumulated on the surfaces in the home. Moving and rearranging the furniture is not an unusual thing during Generalka. As weird as it sounds, you might come back home and find your bed in a completely new location. The bathroom and the kitchen are not left out when doing Generalka.

These cleaning habits are a completely normal thing in Europe and specifically in Macedonia. The entire family comes together for the sole purpose of cleaning the entire home. It`s a way of making preparations and welcoming new seasons appropriately into the home.

The practice of Deep Cleaning, Spring Cleaning and Seasonal Cleaning is not new to any of us, but to have a great name like “Generalka Day” and create a family tradition that bonds and strengthens relationships is something to cherish and develop.