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The Traditional Customs from the Island of Zlarin

Zorica Rajković ; Institut za etnologiju i folkloristiku

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 37.528 Kb

str. 221-252

preuzimanja: 371


Puni tekst: engleski pdf 2.981 Kb

str. 253-255

preuzimanja: 297



The paper discusses traditional folk customs on the Island of Zlarin as they were practised early In the twentienth century, surviving partly at least until the Second World War. The customs described here are those connected with life and annual cycles and, to a lesser extent, with coral diving, fishing, shipping, and other activities. The data for this paper was gathered by the present author in interviews with older Zlarinians in 1978. Part of the material has been collected and placed at the author's disposal by Zlarinians who initiated the study of local traditions. Data from literature have also been used, but not much has been found there.
Among the traditional customs connected with the life cycle, birth is discussed first, especially certain beliefs and procedures in connection with pregnancy, conjectures concerning the sex of the
unborn baby, and practices at the time of delivery (inducing labour
by means of blowing and taking of hot drinks). The placenta was
buried near the house or under the doorstep. The care of the mother
and the newborn was the job of the village midwife, who also assisted during the delivery. The mother was visited by women
relatives who brought her food. The birth of the baby was celebrated
on the third day in a ceremony called povijanica (swathing ceremony), for which a cake known as povijanica was baked. The baby was baptized soon after birth or much later. The godfather and the godmother (or two couples of godparents) gave presents to the baby, to the woman who carried the baby to church for baptism, and to the midwife. If there were fears that the baby might die, it was baptised as soon as possible and was taken to church In secret; the baby would be taken out of the house through the window and the first person that the parents met on the way to church would be taken as a godparent. Some beliefs speak of witches and their danger for the babies, and practices against them are recommended. customs surrounding the child's first haircut and first tooth are also described.
Krsnica was the birthday party (often also combined with the name-day celebration, as children were commonly given names of the saints on whose fete-days they were born) for male members of the family, even when they were away from home. A special cake was baked for this occasion and was also known as krsnica.
The custom surrounding the drafting of young men into the army and their departure into the national service included their stealing flowers from girls and exhibiting them in a conspicuous place, as well as their leave-taking from relatives and friends with all-night drinking and singing.
Numerous traditions connected with marriage began with the first message sent to the girl's parents In which the bridegroom-to-be declared his intention of asking for their daughter's hand. When the parents' consent was obtained he would pay them a visit with his parents. On this occasion the boy and the girl would shake hands and exchange besida (promise): the boy would promise to ask for the girl's hand in marriage and she would promise to accept his proposal. The next step after this was the actual proposal. On this occasion the boy had to bring a present for the girl - regularly an ornament made of gold. The period between the engagement and the wedding - whose length depended on various factors - was used by the prospective bride to prepare her dowry and wedding presents. Weddings were normally celebrated between Christmas and Lent. Important figures in the wedding ceremony were kumpari (two best men) and stari svat (bridegroom's chief attendant). The wedding procession was invariably headed by a standard-bearer carrying a flag. The wedding party would gather at the bridegroom's home, from where it would proceed to the bride's home, and then to church. Weddings usually took place In the early hours of Saturday afternoon, and after the church ceremony the whole party would go to the bride's house, where food and drinks were served and there was singing and dancing before everybody went to the groom's home for dinner and further merrymaking. Two events in the course of the wedding ceremony were accompanied by specific customs, namely,
the arrival of the wedding party at the bride's home and their departure for the church and the arrival of the wedding party, with the bride, to the groom's home. Arriving at the bride's home, members of the wedding party had 'to pretend they were looking
for a dove which they had lost; those In the bride's house would
offer them older women, but they would refuse them one after another until the bride appeared, It is interesting to note that the
groom was supposed to walk at the end of the wedding procession
on the way to the bride's home, on the way to church, and from
the church to the bride's home. It was only when the procession
left the bride's home for his home that he was allowed to walk
with the .bride, Arriving at the groom's home, the wedding party
was met by everybody in the house. The mother-in-law would
kiss the bride upon arrival and gave her a boy to hold. The bride
was supposed to give the boy a pair of socks and a biscuit. Eutering
the house, the bride was not allowed to step ou the threshold
but was rather supposed to step over it. In the groom's house,
after dinner, gifts were exchanged: the bride would give various
clothing Items to members of the groom's family and to the more
prominent members of the wedding party. Finally, before the wedding party was over and everybody went home, the wedding crown (or a wreath with a veil in more receut time) was ceremonially
taken away from the bride's head. In earlier times, the wedding crown was taken off the bride's head with a sword, as described by Alberto Fortis in the second half of the eig-hteenth century. A week after the wedding the bride's family visited the bride, bringing her presents in gaily decorated baskets (hence the name konistrice 'baskets' for this custom).

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