Feast of the Holy Forty Martyrs in Štip

Inscribed in 2013 (8.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Country(ies): The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia



Feast of the Holy Forty Martyrs in Štip

The Feast of the Holy Forty Martyrs takes place every year on 22 March, honouring the fourth-century martyrs of Sebaste and marking the first day of spring. Participants gather on the streets and in the squares of Štip, and then hike up the Isar hill, stopping en route at the church to pay tribute to the Holy Forty Martyrs. During the climb – according to tradition – the participants must greet forty acquaintances and gather forty pebbles as well as forty flowers or twigs from the almond trees that grow nearby. On reaching the top, the participants make wishes and throw thirty-nine pebbles into the Bregalnica River below. The remaining pebble is kept and placed under the pillow before going to sleep. Musical bands play on the hill throughout the day. The feast is transmitted through parents hiking with their children, or older relatives and friends handing down the tradition to the younger generation. This spring event requires the selfless cooperation of many people from all age groups, social classes and backgrounds, thus promoting and encouraging teamwork and solidarity. The feast is also a way of bringing together the different religious and ethnic groups that live in Štip, thus perpetuating a sense of belonging to the city and its traditions.


Decision 8.COM 8.27

The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:

  • R.1: The Feast of the Holy Forty Martyrs provides the different religious and ethnic groups in Štip with a sense of identity and continuity, while reinforcing mutual respect, social cohesion and integration;
  • R.2: Inscription of the Feast of the Holy Forty Martyrs on the Representative List could contribute to the visibility of the intangible cultural heritage by encouraging dialogue among different social, religious and ethnic groups and promoting respect for cultural diversity;
  • R.3: Safeguarding measures including research, documentation and publication will involve different communities as well as public bodies;
  • R.4: The nomination was initiated by the communities of Štip who were broadly informed of the process and whose representative, the Mayor of Štip, provided free, prior and informed consent on their behalf;
  • R.5: The Feast was included in 2011 as an Important Cultural Heritage in the National Registry of Cultural Heritage maintained by the Ministry of Culture.

Recalls the importance of using appropriate vocabulary and avoiding expressions such as ‘authenticity’.



© (2010) by TV IRIS

(2010) Sasho Tatarchevski

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