The Naming of Selo Bešište

There is quite possibly more than one tale that tells of the name of Bešište. My niece remembers my father telling her how our village got its name. Around 1500, the area was called Satoka. The patron saint of the people there was, and still is, Sveta (saint) Petka. In attempts to convert the orthodox Macedonians to the Muslim faith, Ottoman Turks wreaked havoc across the land, burning down churches and killing people who protested. So was the fate of the church Sveta Petka in Satoka, burned to the ground along with the village.

The faith and strength of the people was not burned to ash though, and people began anew, building new houses, but further away from the area they called Satoka. The people chose an area that would not prove advantageous to invading Ottoman armies, one where the empire’s soldiers could not be able to hide in wait.

The name Bešište, like so many words in the Macedonian language, is of Turkish origin. One day, as my father went on to tell, a Turk made his way from somewhere, maybe Solun (in what is today the Greek-occupied piece of Macedonia), and was asked where he was headed. The traveler replied, “…I’m going way over there, the village with five families…to collect taxes…” Of course, beš is Turkish for five.

The name Satoka is still used today to refer to the area where families used to live; the area where the church of Sveta Petka once was, before the destruction. In fact, to this day, the villagers still celebrate that holy day of Sveta Petka in that area, once a year, to honour her and the protection she gives, and to honour the history of the village. This once a year celebration is held in summer, with food and drink, music and oro (Macedonian dancing).