A POSTCARD FROM ZAGREB IN JULY: WORLD AT PALM
39th International Folklore Festival, Zagreb, July 20-24, 2005
Springtime Customs in North-Eastern Croatia and its' Parallels / Queens and Related Customs
ZAGREB, Croatia; July 2005 â€“ In only few days, beginning July 20th , the Croatian capital Zagreb will become lively again in sounds, colors and richer in forms cultivated in traditional customs all over the world. A postcard from Zagreb in July reads â€“ variety, perception saturated with archetypes and symbols speaking through unbiased experience of folk arts â€“ and ever so since 1966, the year of the first International Folklore Festival in Zagreb.
Nearing itâ€™s 40th anniversary next year, IFF in Zagreb expects over thousand programme participants from all over the country and the world. While there is 29 Croatian ensembles and solo performances, the rest of the world is very well represented by 18 performances of folk dance and music, so different as those from Sweden and Oman, Russia and Egipt, Ireland and Turkey, Check Republic, Bulgaria, Italy, Latvia, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Spain and closer connected to Croatian customs, Bosnia and Hercegovina. And all that all over the city, in the representative old town squares, palaces and churches, as well as on the grand stage on the main city square, Trg Bana Jelačića.
The main theme this year is Springtime Customs in North-Eastern Croatia (Slavonija, Srijem, Baranja) and its' Parallels. It brings into the focus some most peculiar of customary springtime processions and rituals: The Walk of Queens, quite distinctive for the region, but not without parallels in other parts of Croatia and some other neighboring countries (especially among Croats in Vojvodina, Hungary and Posavina in northern Bosnia). The scientific research also found some corresponding examples in folk tradition of Check Republic, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania, and they are included in to make a picture more complete.
The custom itself has ancient origins, and is pointing to almost magic, pre-Christian meaning, but remained in practice until recently, around Christian holydays in Spring (Cvjetnica â€“ Spasovo â€“ Duhovi). In the mid 20th century and through the 21st, it was conserved and stylized, then purified and renewed in the work of local folklore ensembles. The figures of Queens are beautiful, decorated with cultures of vegetation, flowers, feathers, in some cases even golden coins Â«dukatiÂ». And they carry swords, or sables, or wooden counterparts of it - but, not for fighting, most probably to show the power and victory of renewal and fertility. Sometimes, there are also women in the walk, called Kings; in some localities they were found differently decorated, but somewhere they are looking just the same as Queens. No strong argument for now, why is that so.
Other interesting and attractive programs show different themes.
World music concert and club sessions â€“ The Sounds and Echoes of Ireland â€“ featuring Ã‰amon de Barra (Ireland), The Flooks (UK), The Skelligs, The Slip, CiotÃ³g, Belfast Food (Croatia), followed by workshops on Irish music and traditional instruments;
Church folk singing: To Patron Saints in Slavonia, Women and Croatian Traditional Music, Review of Å okciâ€™s folk costumes, dance workshop â€œSheikhat, the professional dancers of Moroccoâ€?, and workshop of great tradition and popularity among visitors, Dance With Us.
Scientific research and a lot of work on the terrain of the experts of the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore in Zagreb, is always in the background of the IFF, thus providing some difference from other great folk festival in Croatia. As the Artistic director, Zorica Vitez, PhD., stressed last year at the press conference, the perception of the folklore is rapidly changing , and this Festival strives to meet the point. So, in this time, it is not the procession of â€œRadićevciâ€? in folk costumes as it once used to be, and not without sense, but rather a meeting point of different cultures, somewhere in the middle of the road, here in Croatia. The audience is always confronted with some new element in â€œthe old thingâ€? with the purpose to bring forth fresh evidence in dynamic multicultural sphere.
That is one more reason for the audience in Zagreb to remain faithful and very interactive leaving no doubts that - if the weather hopefully wonâ€™t make pranks - any tourist in Zagreb in July is welcome in the atmosphere of good amusement and joyous impressions. (I.Stipetic)