When some says to you, “I’m going on vacation!” most people think Paris, Hawaii, or Las Vegas. Well I have the privilege of being able to travel somewhere different, somewhere that most people don’t really know about. For my winter vacation this past year I went to Bosnia and Herzegovina. This may seem slightly random, but this is where my family is from, and although I have been to Bosnia before, this was my first time going during the winter season, and it was a completely different experience than going during the summer.
I was so excited to see my family and friends; that was the first thing I thought about when I heard that my family would be traveling to Bosnia that winter. Since I have been to Bosnia before I had time to make some really great friends and become very close with my family. Before we left my parents would tell me and my brother about the things they did during the winter and I was excited to experience it myself. My friends in Bosnia had made plans for my brother and me to celebrate new years with them in a diskoteka which is like a teen club. This was the best new years I had ever had. The music was awesome and having my friends there made it even better. And after new years came Christmas. Since I am a Serbian Orthodox Christian my Christmas is celebrated on January 7. Celebrating Christmas in Bosnia was so much fun because the traditions themselves are interesting, like throwing candy into hay for the small children and lighting the oak tree on fire after the church service was over. But also, it started to snow! When we woke up there was a white blanket of perfection covering the ground and the rooftops all around us. It had snowed in the days before as well and we were excited to spend as much time outdoors as possible.
However the chances to be outside in the snow didn’t come too often. Since it was below freezing everyday we that were in Bosnia, most of our time was spent indoors. But being indoors also showed me another side of life. The only homes in Bosnia that have heating in their homes are the very rich people, so most families warm their homes with wood stoves. During our summers in Bosnia I always saw men chopping piles and piles of wood preparing for the winter, and now I finally got to see how much of it was really used. I was surprised to see that all of the wood was being used, and not sparingly either. A fire was always burning in every room, thank god for that, because if it had been left to die out, then everyone would have frozen for sure. The fires weren’t only used to keep homes warm but also to cook food on top of the stoves, and to dry out wet socks and boots. It was amazing to me that everyone could get by without a dryer or a heating system.
Although I have been to Bosnia before, this trip was special for me. I got to see my favorite place in the world in a completely new light. It was amazing seeing how life changed during the winter. From how people dressed, to the food they ate and the things they did. I was so excited when I first found out that my family would be spending the winter in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I would go back again in a second.
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