Wednesday, March 01, 2006


"Promaja". I was told many times to shut the door or windows because it's "promaja". I asked what is "promaja", and most cases, there is no clear answer. So, I checked up a Macedonian-English dictionary, but again, no answer. No English word for it. From hearings to several people, it seems "promaja" is like the condition that wind goes through a room. So if a room has two windows by facing each other and both are open, it is "promaja". And this "promaja" causes headaches, shoulder tense and a cold. Nothing good comes out from it. Even it is so in summer, when air is warm. Really?
My apartment has two balconies in two sides, and I usually keep both doors open when it is a sunny, warm day, as a regular Japanese girl who favors the wind comes through in the room and freshens the air, which usually everybody in Japan does. And Macedonian auntie says it is promaja and shuts the door. Well, I have not had any headache, shoulder tense and a cold yet from keeping the doors or windows open in any country I have ever been. It is a funny custom in Macedonia. Well, usually old custom contains some wisdoms from ages ago, so maybe it is true. I should be more serious about promaja in Macedonia. Well, and maybe in Macedonia the air is very dry (and dusty), and maybe that is why promaja could cause shoulder tense..... ne znam ;-)

マケドニアには「プロマヤ」という言葉があります。「プロマヤ」だからドアを閉めて、って何度言われたことか。。。はじめて聞いたときにはいったい何のことかと思って、それなに? って何度か意味を聞いたのですが、いつも明快な答えはナシ。「プロマヤ」に相当する言葉が英語では存在しない模様。マケドニア・英語辞典にも載っていなかったし。


Anonymous said...


にょん said...

これは旧ユーゴの迷信みたいですよ。英語では「draft(通気, すき間風, 通風)」と訳しているようです。ちなみに、他にも、縁起の悪い話をしているときに、木製品(ドアとか机とか)の表面を手でコンコンって叩くことで「bring me luck」の意を表す、なんて迷信もあるみたいで、だいたい毎日誰かがやっているのを見かけます。

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


天鳳 said...


napomi said...


Anonymous said...

Hi Napomi, it is Elena. You made me and my husband laugh (a lot)on this one. We indeed react in panic whenever we feel an air coming from opposite directions, but it is an inherited attitude.....You made me realise what a non-sence reaction it is. Once again, compliments on your blog, this time from my husband. Chao.

Anton said...

Hi, I just stumbled across this page looking for what "Promaja" means. Thanks for the definition! Hope your time in Macedonia goes/went well :)

Eric said...

Hey, I've heard about 'promaja' and its terrible health effects as well. I find it just as puzzling as you do, being an American who likes a good breeze going through a room in warm weather. I have to say though, what the obsession with 'promaja' most reminded me of was my experience with my host family in Japan, when I asked them if I could get a fan for my room. They asked me if I was going to leave it on at night, and I said I probably would, though if they were worried about power consumption of course I wouldn't go against their wishes (having had it drilled into me that Americans waste a lot of power in comparison to the Japanese). But no, it turned out their concern was that I was going to suffocate! From an electric fan! They sincerely believed that if I left the fan on all night, it would be terribly dangerous for my health. Having slept with a fan on for years in the United States, this left me somewhat bemused. It reminds me very much of the Macedonian obsession with 'promaja'. I think every culture has its own odd beliefs about health (not to leave Americans out, a lot of people here think wearing magnets as jewelery increases your circulation and rids you of toxins. Weird.)

By the way, the best English translation for 'promaja' is the word 'draft.' You can use it in the sense of 'there's a draft in here' to mean it's a little cold and breezy because of an open window, but people aren't nearly as concerned about it in the US or the UK as they are in Macedonia ^_^

napomi said...

Thanks Eric and other for your comments.
Well, as being a japanese in Macedonia, i still open the both windows at summer night and keep the promaja comes in my room so that i can sleep cool and well. But I think the story about too much wind hitting your body during the sleep affects your own health actually is true because the body temparature goes down once people start to sleep and the wind would help lower it further, which causes lots of health problem said in the world of the orental medicine. ;-P

Anonymous said...

"Promaja" is probably a superstition leftover from the Black Death. Back then it would make sense to avoid gusts of winds and such.

Milan said...

Promaja is promaja. End! :-)))

Stefania said...

I love the concept or promaja.I've dressed up as a promaja for halloween, let me tell you it was hard!

I've had experience with it in Serbia. There, the younger people are generally ok with it, but they like a controlled, small promaja, and they really must discuss it and tell you why its got to be controlled.

But seriously, "draft" isn't really that equivalent of a translation. Eric IS right, literally, but "draft" doesn't have nearly the the depth of the bad connotation of promaja. Its because we (Amerikanski) don't have a negative association with a "wind through the house". One of my Ex's - who was in medical school in Beograd, in his final semester! - insisted he caught a cold from a promaja, and he's of the younger generation, and...a Doctor! And he still thought he caught a cold from a Promaja! The belief is strong!

The Promaja is definitely more specific than a "draft" it seems the bad connotation is part of its definition. It is also interesting that my Bulgarian husband has never heard of the word "Promaja," and he speaks Serbian, Russian and Bulgarian. Perhaps its because he's never been to a Serbian or Macedonian family's home...(??). but one thing's for sure it's just not a Bulgarian phenomenon!

But really, Promaja is Promaja. You just can't understand it unless you have been there and had the experience of opening the windows and then having people tell you why you shouldn't (when its HOT!)....and you have to hear the stories...and then, after hearing all of it, any wind through the house will give you a chill and make you suspicious!

Promaja is promaja!

da....nez num.

Wakara nai.

zvezda3 said...

Hey! I came across your blog looking for answers on Promaja myself.. you see my parents were both born in Macedonia and I was born in California, and promaja was never an issue while living in California, it is an issue now that I am living in Macedonia. I don't understand it and to be honest I really don't believe it. One of my biggest pet peeves is when it is scorching hot during the summer time, you are driving in a car and you want to roll down all the windows.. BUT someone always has to say, no no promaja... so you can only roll down 1/4 windows!!! Why doesn't it affect other parts of the world if this is true? People here make you believe you can get sick and ill because of promaja, but I cannot find any logical or scientific information to prove this, nor have I ever gotten sick either in my car with all the windows rolled down (or even in my convertable) and never has it affected my health when I open all the windows and doors in my house. I love a good breeze.

BTW I hope you enjoyed it here regardless of promaja :)

Anonymous said...

Its a balkan thing. Same as dont sit on cold stone.

ivana said...

I am from Serbia,near Macedonia.Promaja exist it's true.Headaches,pain in bowns and many ,many diferents problems.I know people who get sick(doctors said).So very cearfoly with PROMAJA. Sorry for my English.

Anonymous said...

Promaja really exists come to Serbia and you will be convinced.

Ema said...

I am serbian too, but I moved to Canada and laugh at people who blame promaja for everything. In Canada, we live in cold weather, we have hot summers with multiple open windows, we go outside with hair wet, and we DON'T DIE OF WIND.

My university-educated cousin actually believes that her friend's aunt got MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS because she went to a wedding with wet hair.

My grandma wore cotton in her ears for her entire life to prevent the promaja from giving her headaches.

I went to Serbia two summers ago, and spent a couple of weeks there. Up until then I had never heard of this "promaja" thing. When we were driving in the car with my uncle, you couldn't have more than one window open. The best was to have maybe one window, just very slightly open. If we opened more than one window, he'd cover the back of his head with his hand (to prevent the promaja).
What blew me away was the persistent belief that you should keep windows closed and not allow air flow in the car/house/etc....yet people there smoke so heavily that all that smoke gets trapped in the car/room/etc. because of the LACK of promaja.

And then you die of cancer.

Anonymous said...

LOL ppl i am from serbia and Promaja realy is true. It wont heapen oll the time when you open windows but onlu sometimes, and you will feal very bad , you will have pain in bones and head , feal sleepy.... It has something to do with dry air on balcan.

Ema said...


"LOL ppl i am from serbia and Promaja realy is true. It wont heapen oll the time when you open windows but onlu sometimes, and you will feal very bad , you will have pain in bones and head , feal sleepy.... It has something to do with dry air on balcan"

Vjeruj me, nije istina - Ja zivim u kanadi, i ovdje je minus 30 preko zime. Kad se malo otopli, mi svi otvaramo sve prozore, i nemamo problema ici napolje sa mokrom kosom.
Ovdje ljudi i neznaju sta je "promaja"!
Ja kad sam bila u srbije, neka te bog sacuva ako hoces dva prozora da otvoris u isto vrijeme, neko ce da se buni. Pa onda mozemo svi ljepo da sjedimo i da se zajedno znojimo, dok nas neko gusi s dimom cigarete...

Pardon my terrbile Serbian :P

Anonymous said...

I live in Zagreb, Croatia, and Croats are also 'fond' of 'promaja', although the term we use here, in Zagreb is 'propuh', 'promaja' is mainly used in Dalmatia.

I actually do get cold if I stand in the breeze trough the room. It has to be realy realy warm, then I won't get cold, but if it is like 20-22 C outside, I just keep one window open, because the draft realy kills me :) I don't get headaches, but my nose starts running, sometimes my eyes burn.
Since my parents are from the island of Hvar, I spend most of my summers there. We have quite a large house (for Croatian standards), and the dining table is capable of 'serving' 15 people. With that many people in the room you need to keep the doors or windows open. I try not to sit close to the door or window, because after half an hour on the breeze my kidneys start to hurt. So I try to avoid promaja/propuh as much as I can :)

sorana said...

@Stefania: "Promaja' is a very interesting phenomenon, we have it too in Romania :) Actually, I am doing some research on the topic right now, for an article in a magazine and I was looking for someone who previously didn't believe "promaja" exists and who is now "a believer" :) Ans the story about your husband, the doctor, really made me curious: is there any chance that u coud help me get into contact with him? I would highly appreciate that, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Both of my parents are from Serbia and I have been there multiple times and I am amazed at how many people have this illogical fear of promaja. They really believe that promaja is responsible for all the ills previously mentioned plus "upala mozga" (translated "inflammation of the brain"). I noticed that people have really strong belieif in promaja and if you try to tell them otherwise they get insulted, almost as if yo are insulting their religion. Lets not forget that many Serbians' fear also extends to drinking cold drinks with ice in the cup.

I say relax and have a cold drink.

Anonymous said...

Hello! I am living in Kosova for the first time and this summer promaja was definitely an issue! I was only in one car that had no air conditioning and had to suffered with the windows up only once! Our building manager pointed out that people will refuse to open windows for a cross-breeze in summer but in winter many leave the door open with no regard for it! Very interesting.

Pedja said...

draught... but the true meaning of the word is hard to translate - it's deeply rooted in our ancestry...

same thing goes for INAT - in spite of, but in Serbian it is mixed with pride...

Goran said...

The air, which has a lot of humidity in Macedonia, hits your skin and gets into the body.
It cools your body and causes headache and cough.

It's not the "open doors," it's the draft that kicks you that cools you off.
You should stay on a draft for an hour and you'll feel it.
But none of you does it. You stay for five minutes which is not enough to cool your neck (head, torso) and declare "it's a joke."

Your "experimental" and deductive techniques are a joke.

Ema said...

Goran, your post is very presumptuous. I've spent a lot of time in the path of drafts (more than five minutes, more like hours) and I'm still alive, thank you very much.

Goran said...

Yes, yes; Of course...
The draft in Macedonia is like a gaseous water. Let cold water hit your neck continuously for twenty minutes, and we'll see whether you will not catch a cold.

The cold draft will need more time, let's say an hour, depending on the coldness of the air, your previous physical activities and your bodily resistance to cold.

Matt Hollingsworth said...

I've lived in Zagreb for more than 3 years and I love a good breeze. I drive with my windows open, and yes for hours. And I love a good cross breeze.

Propuh is a myth and people get insulted if you call it a myth. Goran, if it takes hours to affect you, as you say, then why do people make such a big deal if you want to open the window in the car for a few minutes?

It's psychosomatic, that's why. For people who believe in it, they convince themselves and it really affects them. For those of us who don't, we're immune. We're not immune to catching a chill from a cold wind, but that's not what propuh is. It can be hot wind too.

Anyway, it's interesting. But it's a myth.

Goran Arsov said...

Air, 25 degrees celsius.
Swap it with water with the same temperature.

Make it hit your neck for an hour.

You'll see whether you'll get a sore neck/head or not.

I'm sorry i can't test it along with yourself, but the next time i meet an American, i'll make him/her do the experiment with me.

Goran Arsov said...

How hoard is it to understand that the promaja is bad because it coos off your body?

When the breeze is hot, no one will say anything about it and keep it going, except someone who wants to bother you for no reason.

alekso said...

Promaja- a mystical force of nature responsible for the ailments and deaths of milions of macedonians throughout history. :)))

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm currently living in Dalmacija - and I am intrigued with the power of promaja in this area. It holds hands with 'don't wash your hair at night, don't go outside with wet hair, don't eat ice-cream in bura - (guaranteed to make you sick!). I had understood that to catch a cold etc there needs to be a cold virus present - just hanging in a breeze is insufficient in any other country to guarantee a cold - this only works in Croatia (and evidently in Macedonia too - bless!) intelligent women here dont wash their hair during their period (you will bleed more heavily) or at night (causes a migraine..).
I was wondering about the high incident of back issues - I presumed that that was what it was with so many people on motorbikes wearing those support waist braces - foolish me, it is so you dont get cold kidneys and get sick - even in the summer. Now that is marketing!

Anonymous said...

first, people from places where you build your houses from wood, you have -moving of air- in your houses all the time. most of houses in ex-yugoslavia are from concrete and do not have "moving air" as default condition. so if you do not grow up and get used to be on "promaja" it can make you small problems like runny nose and stiff neck. but nothing worse that that. except if you are talking to old people... they have opinion that it cause immediate death in many ways.

Anonymous said...

i am 33 now, all my life lived in Macedonia. Until 25 I had no prob-ems at all driving myself in a car with all windows down. Somehow over time it started to give me problems. Now in only 5 minutes I feel pain in the place where the wind is hitting my body. It seems all these coments are right. It is not rresearched at all. It shuld be.