Happy Summer Day! This holiday celebrates the lunar spring. The town of Elbasan is the center of the celebration and has preserved the holiday in it's purist form. Although Elbasan is where the most celebrating goes on, many other cities and villages throughout Albania celebrate this big and festive holiday. There is lots of music, dancing, and ballakume! Ballakume is a large cookie that is made from butter, sugar, corn flour, and egg yolks and baked in a wood oven. The wood oven is the most important part because one of the characteristics of this ëmbëlsirë (dessert) is the presence of ash in the cookie. These cookies come, but once a year and they are most definitely a special treat, and good!
Last Ditën e Verës, my friend Nathan and I were traveling back down south from Elbasan after a great day of celebrating in Elbasan. In order to get from Elbasan to the more southern region of the country one travels through the village of Pajove, where my host family lives as well as Nathan's. Upon approaching the center of Pajove, a woman on the side of the road hailed the furgon. The furgon stopped, the Albanian woman slid the van's door open, handed Nathan a large plastic bag, had a quick exchange in Albanian with him, and slid the van door shut. It all happened so fast I didn't really know what was happening. After the furgon started up again and we were enroute to Vlore, Nathan opened up the bag and it was full of ballakume! I looked at Nathan after making this discovery and all he said to me was, "What? I really like my host mother's ballakume."