For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Macedonian customs: a breath of fresh air ...

The IPKat is always curious to learn of the quaint and endearing customs and practices of his Balkan brethren. Indeed, while this Kat does not actually have a Christmas tree, he thinks that they are very pretty and greatly approves of the practice of placing cheerfully-wrapped parcels on their branches, just out of reach of the children for whom they are destined, as an incentive to them to grow a little taller. He was therefore enthralled to read how customs officials from the FYR of Macedonia, in the course of their regular border patrols round Bogorodica over the Christmas period, seized no fewer than 4,950 tiny little Christmas tree-shaped air fresheners. These air fresheners originated in Turkey and were discovered in the luggage of a Kosovo citizen.

The smuggling of bibles and other religious perquisites is a well-known feature of life in some of the world's less tolerant and more repressive regimes.  However, this is the first occasion on which this Kat has heard of the smuggling of miniature pine-trees.  Information from his friend Jelena Jankovic (Petosevic) is that the mini-trees, pictured above, right, somewhat mysteriously carried the inscription "POSTA", this being an apparent allusion to Macedonia's postal service.  Perhaps the trees are not so much air fresheners as airmail fresheners.

Customs officials at the same border crossing also seized no fewer than 43,200 cans of shoe-polish during the same period.  While Merpel is delighted that the good folk of Macedonia take so much interest in the appearance of their shoes, the IPKat is puzzled. Is there a connection between the air-fresheners and the shoe-polish?  He scents something strange afoot ...

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