Over time the modern Macedonian culture evolved, beginning in about 700 with their
arrival to the region. This culture is defined by the people that today live on
the lands of Macedonia, not the ancient Macedonians who are not closely related
to the modern people. This culture began with the people who settled the lands and
even today most Macedonians are ethnically similar to other southern Slavs and also
speak a Slavic language that shares similarities with their neighbors.
Like their neighbors to the east, the Macedonians adopted Eastern Orthodox Christianity,
linking these people to other people who lived under the rule of the Byzantine Empire,
most particularly the Bulgarians. This connection to the Byzantine Empire and their
neighbors helped develop the Macedonian culture, particularly in terms of food and
politics. However, it was the Ottoman Turks who truly settled the lands and changed
the culture, especially in terms of Albanian immigration to the region and the influence
of Turkish foods and culture.
Despite all the changes over time, many argue the Macedonians are nearly identical
to the Bulgarians in many ways and the Greeks argue the Macedonians have no right
to use that name. The Macedonians argue both points as they claim they are distinctly
different from the Bulgarians and their history would support this, although in
other ways there are few differences. However, ethnically, the Macedonians today
have no close relationship to the ancient Macedonians, although they do occupy nearly
the same land mass. This has led to political arguments and the country of Macedonia
calling itself the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" in many diplomatic
Today the confusion surrounding Macedonia continues and few people are willing to
take a strong side on any issue. However, what seems clear is that the Macedonians
today maintain a distinct culture and identity. The people cling to this "Macedonian"
identity and their culture has many aspects that differentiate it from Bulgaria
and the rest of the Peninsula, despite the many similarities.