What does a Croatian Ethnographic Festival in Subotica, Serbia look like?
Dužijanca is a harvest festival in Croatia. It is a very old tradition, dating back to ancient times, when it was a celebration devoted to the God of Fertility. Over time, it developed into a farmers’ festival and celebration. Dužijanca is tied to St Marc’s holiday, when farmers go to the fields and bless the wheat. Harvest usually starts on St Peter’s Day, symbolically, if the wheat wasn’t ripening enough. The wheat was gathered into bundles, the bundles were dispersed into a circle, in the centre of which a stake was set to tie a horse to. The horse stepped over the bundles with hoofs and the wheat settled on the ground with reed on top of it. The first revived Dužijanca was held in 1968 in an urban environment, and has been celebrated as such ever since. The ceremonial procession, dominated by an abundance of Croatian national attire, moved about the city, thus keeping up traditional harvest customs of Croatians and saving them from sinking into oblivion.
After 1945, Duzijanca was celebrated in a cathedral in Subotica and the local Bunjevci churches when the grain wreaths were made, as well as crowns similar to the royal ones and various religious symbols. Public celebration of Duzijanca was renewed in 1966 in Subotica and joined in with a church festivity. Today, it has grown into a folklore tourist performance with rich contents and high ratings. While the men in the Bunjevci traditional culture made tubs, cauldrons, and numerous other functional and ornamental objects out of wood with their strong hands, the women, spontaneously but with great patience, began using wheat blades skillfully and accurately for making various jewelry. Their soft hands created distinctive ornamental objects out of straw, and developed the skill of dressing, weaving, and knitting the thin yellow blades very imaginatively, made pictures out of straw, various scene portrayals, straw flowers, functional vessels, seasonal greeting cards.
1993 is a very important year in the history of Dužijanca, the activists of the Bunjevačko kolo Cultural Association and representatives of the church succeeded in approaching and uniting the church and the civil celebration of Dužijanca. It was a thorough success. Thus, after more than eight decades, Dužijanca was a common commemoration again, united and enriched with new cultural contents.