Adherence to ancient pagan beliefs also continued well in the 20th century, particularly in the northern mountain villages, many of which were devoid of churches and mosques. A Northern Albanian intellectual and poet, Pashko Vasa (1825–1892), made the trenchant remark, later co-opted by the totalitarian regime, that "Churches and mosques you shall not heed / The religion of Albanians is Albanism" (Albanian: Mos shikoni kisha e xhamia / Feja e shqyptarit âsht shqyptaria).
The Muslims of Albania during the Ottoman invasion were divided into two main communities: those associated with Sunni Islam and those associated with the Bektashi, a mystic Dervish order that came to Albania through the Albanian Janissaries that served in the Ottoman army and who practiced Albanian pagan rites under a nominal Islamic cover.
Old non-institutional pagan practices in rural areas, which were seen as identifying with the national culture, were left intact. As a result the current Albanian state has also brought pagan festivals to life, like the solar Spring festival (Albanian: Dita e Verës) held yearly on March 14 in the city of Elbasan, which is a national holiday.