The Albanians, over time have had a very rich symbolic inherent in the ritual of coffee consumption. The elements that have depicted this ritual with positive and negative messages are different and were reflected in people's interactions or in their various kinds of meetings.
Coffee as a cultural fact in Albania
The aforementioned symbolic of coffee has always been accentuated especially in Northern Albania, as reported by the Albanian sociologist, Zyhdi Dervishi in his book "Lens of symbolic interaction".
If a malissor, an inhabitant of the Albanian mountains, went to the home of a fellow countryman to resume a speech begun earlier, dressed in the specific clothes "of friendship" - "kostum i mikut", in an important sequence such as " tobacco exchange ", which was linked to an engagement, a reconciliation for blood feud, a conciliation, the resolution of a conflict, etc ..., the landlord did not ask the guest how he wanted coffee.
It was right through the degree of sweetening of coffee or its bitterness, that the guest perceived in a symbolic way the reaction of his interlocutor on the progress of the question underlying the visit.
In case the coffee served had been sweet, this meant that the outcome of the resolution of the matter had been positive or that they were at a good point for its success.
The guest, on his side, transversally transmitted his sensation after tasting the sweet coffee and this he did through cliché phrases such as: "I notice that you exchanged coffee for honey!", Or "For coffee, I know that you poured honey, not sugar! "," You poured a whole jar of honey in the coffee! ", etc.
The landlord usually silently stated these reactions of the host, nodding, nodding his head up and down or smiling. Only after having passed this first phase of approval, the guest approached in a more carefree and loose manner and expressed himself with optimism for the conclusion of their question.
In case he is served a medium coffee as far as the quantity of sugar contained therein is concerned, this had the value that their question remained pending and there were no conditions for its short-term resolution.
In this case, the guest reported his reaction with other cliché phrases, such as: "I don't know if there was sugar in your area ?!", or: "The snow has blocked the roads and the supply of the sugar apparently did not arrive! ". In that case, the men of the host house were silent.
The guest had to demonstrate diplomacy and accuracy in the choice of appropriate and convincing words and arguments, which aimed at a better track on their debate.
The hosts could also offer to the guest of the bitter coffe, completely sugar free.
In these cases, the host reacted in two ways:
Using typographical phrases: "Snow should have been the cause of the lack of sugar from you ..." or remained completely silent. The owners of the house always responded to his silence. This made the answer literally negative for the resolution of their problem.
In these circumstances the "royal decree" represented became evident from the bitterness of coffee, for which, the intermediary person, appointed as "mik" - "friend", understood that he did not have to insist on that particular question.
In general, the intermediary maintained calm and self-control, resuming the discussion with other arguments, for example, on the influence of the weather on seasonal farm work, on the reproduction of livestock, even on the progress of the Russian-Japanese conflict, etc ... Indeed, l 'guest had to prove very skilled and diplomatic to change the subject in a timely manner, passing right over the main question for which he had gone to that house.
It is very important to emphasize the value of the symbolic the sweetening or bitterness of coffee through these uses or deeds replacing the heaviness of the use of negative words and their harsh effect in the individual involved or in his entire family.
The negative words would have done much more harm and would have been devastating for all that particular home.
At the same time, the degree of sweetness or bitterness of the coffee was decisive even when it was served in funeral rites in Northern Albania. He expressed in a symbolic way the intensity of the regret for the deceased and indirectly also brought the age of the deceased person.
If the deceased had been an elder and in any case had left a serene and settled family, the coffee served was sweet.
If the deceased had been middle-aged and had left partially settled children, then coffee was served mildly sweetened.
If the deceased had been young, he had left small children, then coffee was served bitter.
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