As much as I dislike the experience, I found myself again at the children’s hospital, however, this time it was because our son was getting circumcised.
The practice of circumcision is both a culturally accepted norm and also a ‘cleanliness’ suggested surgical intervention for boys in Albania. My wife and I were both comfortable with the whole idea so we went ahead and did it.
Our son is only two and a half years old and we decided that this would be the best time for him as the older he gets the more conscious he will be about this experience which, judging form mine (at seven), was not something I felt good about.
Culturally, Albanians have been circumcising their sons for decades. The Muslim religious background of many in the country has been a dominant reason for this practice. Though, historically this is a Jewish tradition in our country it has prevailed as a tradition through the Muslim parts of the population, where the Orthodox and Catholic traditions have not been as open.
However, during communism the practice was upheld mostly for health reasons related to general cleanliness and avoidance of potential infections. Today, it’s much the same reasons that lead many parents to have their sons circumcised.
Muslim tradition in Albania
For Muslim traditional families the circumcision of boys continues to be a major event in the life of the family. Often the occasion is accompanied with various festivities in the form of a lunch or dinner with the extended family and friends all gathering to celebrate. The “lucky boy” also gets some presents (generally cash) as he tries to endure the pain! However, this tradition is fading rapidly as communities are much more fluid now and many families live in locations where most people are not family related. But culturally it is an occasion for family ties to strengthen and people to celebrate.
In our case, my wife and I decided to go the slightly more modern way, where it was only a family matter with just grandparents coming to attend as both of us have to work. Though we did entertain some guests who came to know about it and wanted to pay their traditional ‘respect’.