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KISELJAK, Bosnia-Herzegovina – The 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, which led to the death of about 100,000 people, also destroyed the way of life of a highly intertwined multi-ethnic and multi-confessional society, in which Muslims, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Jews would celebrate each other's main religious holidays throughout the year.
Nowadays these practices, along with the inter-confessional marriages that were very common before the war, are virtually non-existent.
With one exception: St. George's Day, or Djurdjevdan, the main holiday for Bosnia's Roma community, continues to be jointly celebrated by its members on May 6, irrespective of the religious group they belong to.
St. George's Day is celebrated in the countries of the former Yugoslavia on April 23 by Catholics according to the Gregorian calendar and on May 6 by the Orthodox believers following the Julian calendar.
Djurgevdan celebrations, which featured prominently in Bosnian-born Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica's Cannes award-winning movie "The Time of the Gypsies," include traditional rituals such as taking baths and washing hands with water from church wells and cracking painted eggs, as the holiday also marks the arrival of spring.
In the northern Bosnian village of Kiseljak, St. George rituals are carried on by the Ahmetovic family, members of Roma community of about 3,000 with Muslim, Catholic and Orthodox members that has inhabited the area for the past 50 years.
Every year, Munevera Ahmetovic, 54, takes her nieces to the only water source for the household, 50 meters (180 feet) from the family house, to wash their faces, crack eggs and weave willow branches into their hair, before returning for a festive family meal.