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The people of Montenegro have long had to deal with being insultingly generalised as a nation of lazy people. How do the Montenegrins combat this stereotype? By holding a competition to see who can stay in bed for the longest time, of course. Welcome to the annual World Championship of Laziness.
Every country in the world has its stereotypes. These generalisations are nonsense, but a little Montenegrin village in the mountains decided to have a bit of fun with theirs nonetheless. The village in question is an ‘ethno village’ (essentially a model village, where regional traditions are kept alive in an authentic manner) called Brezna, although its more popular moniker is Etno Selo Montenegro.
The man behind the development of the village is also the brains behind the competition, a local entrepreneur called Milonja Blagojević. The contest was first held in 2011 and the rules could not have been simpler – whoever could last the longest lying under a tree with a piece of straw in their mouth would be declared the winner and the laziest person in Montenegro.
The competition has grown and grown in the years since, but the outdoors aspect has long been dispensed with. Competitors are now provided with a mattress in a village house on which to lie, close to power points and safe from the unpredictable elements of the Montenegrin mountains. The change in conditions has predictably led to an improvement in the record time, with 2018’s co-winners clocking in a scarcely believable 49 hours of doing absolutely nothing.
Lying on a mattress next to a socket seems pretty easy, right? Think you could do it for two straight days and then some? It might not be as simple as it seems at first. Contestants are allowed to eat, drink, sleep and surf the internet, but that is about the extent of their activities. They are not allowed to get up under any circumstances, including to use the toilet. Most people have spent lengthy stretches of time in bed for a variety of reasons, but doing so without being able to use the bathroom is another thing entirely.
The contest is remarkably competitive. It isn’t unusual for past winners to return to Brezna in an attempt to reclaim their lost crown, only to find that the quality of the other contestants has improved beyond their reach. Montenegro is a little different, to say the least.
While the World Championships of Laziness (not the official title) is officially a competition for adults only, it is undeniable that youth is an advantage. This is especially true of the younger generations now coming through; groups of young men and women who have the world at the tips of their fingers and plenty of time to spare. A young bladder almost certainly helps as well.
Traditionally held in August, the World Championships of Laziness is usually accompanied by a whole programme of events as the people of the region descend on the sleepy village of Brezna. A slow bike race is another popular event, with the last person to reach the finish line declared the winner. There is also plenty of food and no shortage of rakija (fruit-fermented brandy), as one would expect from any big Balkan celebration.
There are few more invigorating experiences on the planet than an exciting party in the Balkans, especially one that involves plenty of humour and brandy. The World Championship of Laziness ticks all of these boxes, although the excitement might just be a bit too much for some. If you’re in need of a nap, you’re in the right place.