How privileged am I to collaborate with my father on a story about Croatian winemaking traditions! You may know me as a member of the diaspora in the US and an importer and an educator about the indigenous Croatian wines. You may know Vidoslav Bagur as the preeminent ethnographer of Croatian customs. But, even the two of us didn’t know how much fun working together would be to share information about Croatian culture and traditions.
Enter technology as the key player. We have used video conferencing to come up with a creative approach for the story, as well as literally jointly editing the film based on Vidos recordings in Trema, Križevci. As you may know, in my quest for great Croatian wine, I met with many winemakers in the Croatian Uplands / Bregovita wine region, and am reveling in the fact that their quality Pušipel, Sauvignon Blanc, Graševina and Yellow Muscat, which have received many awards in the last several years, are already available for shipping to most US States via online retail at this site www.CroatianPremiumWine.com
Even today, most Croatians don’t think there was a party unless there is singing and dancing to follow a well-prepared meal served with, of course, wine.
Family, culture and wine are all intertwined. Živjeli!
Celebration of the New Wine Year in Croatian Uplands
Content and photos — researched, recorded and edited by: Vidoslav Bagur
Croatian winemaking customs include ceremonies and celebrations about several patron saints that mark important dates in the winemaking year. On St. Vincent’s Day, Vincekovo, the new year begins in the vineyard and in Croatian Uplands (Bregovita wine region), festivities by winegrowers and their friends “pajdaši” are full of hope, desire and prayer for the protection of vineyards and a plentiful harvest.
“Po stari navadi i po običajima naših dedov i pradedov,
mi, ovdešnji goričari zazivlemo zaštitnika naše loze,
naših goric, te naših kleti – svetoga Vinceka”
The strong development of viticulture in Croatian Uplands contributed to the founding of the oldest agricultural college in south-eastern Europe, the Agricultural and Forestry College in Križevci in 1860. The initial notations of the Križevci Statutes, (Križevački Štatuti) the rules on companionable wine-drinking, date from that time. Previously they had been handed down by word of mouth. Štatuti are well-researched historically, but it is notable that the rules of companion drinking are still followed. That is another story, but included are “Regule,” rules about Vincekovo ceremonies in the vineyard.
The winegrowers, villagers and guests gather in a “klet,” a small house in the vineyards, with some closed space to keep the tools and to warm up, as well as open space for gatherings. On Vincekovo, this is about praying for a good harvest. The customs start with the appropriate rituals which include a Bishop (Biškup), a villager dressed like a bishop conducting this folk custom, the Host (Kletodomaćin), and other helpers.
In this case, the host Franjo Posarić in Vinogorje Trema, Podkalničko Prigorje, welcomes all guests with wine from the previous year, while guests are welcomed with the food from the basket.
The members of the Bilikum association of winegrowers in Križevci participate together with their families and friends as helpers in the ceremony, and they bring to the vineyard sausages and dry meat to decorate the vines symbolizing with for fertility.
Vincekovo: Blessing of the Vineyards
The Bishop starts the ceremonies by asking St. Vincent to protect villagers from everything that can hurt them, vineyards and wine, and prays for “healthy, sweet and strong harvest to be served to all members of community.”
“Očuvaj nas molimo te sveti Vincek od svega
kaj bi našem trsju, mošteku, vinčeku i kletićki
kako i svima nama vinogradarima i pajdašiji
Then the host pours the old wine over the vines while “bishop” prays to St, Vincent for all vines in the vineyards to be healthy, sweet and strong, so the wine can “water the thirsty, invigorate the tired, cheer the sad, rejuvenate the old, warm the ones that are cold, comfort the lonely and lift the ones in love.”
“žedne napojiti, trudne okrepiti, betežne zvračiti, starce pomladiti, zimogrozne ugrijati, osamlene utešiti i zaljubljene v nebeske visine uzdignuti.”
The Bishop continues by leading the ceremony of rejuvenation of vineyards, where he proclaims the things to do, the host performs it, and villagers repeats the wording:
“With blessings of Saint Vincent, we cut three vines, with them three buds which are still asleep, I will transfer them to my warm home, put in the water in the window, and as they wake up, they will grow and show us what the next harvest will be like. With that the host takes the twigs and leads the family and friends back to the area that is meant as the first celebration of the year.
Now, the official ceremony is done, and the celebration can start — the helpers take back the sausages, dried ribs, and other “decorations” back to the area for celebration. There awaits for them the wine in pitchers to be drunk with various traditional meals such as “fraklec žganice.“
And, of course there is music, singing and dancing all of various songs symbolizing wishing for good harvest as well as making it possible to choose a dance partner, as it is portrayed by the dance society „Tomislav“ from Sveti Ivan Žabno.
Mirena Bagur, Mag. Oecc, Boston, USA, is a co-founder of Croatian Premium Wine Imports, Inc., an importer, distributor and online retailer of indigenous Croatian wines that ship to most US states, www.CroatianPremiumWine.com Mirena spent decades working in the informatics with companies across the globe, and in innovation and entrepreneurial circles, and this knowledge has been essential to create awareness about Croatian wine industry in USA. In addition, she actively participates in many organizations helping spread Croatian culture in the US, including ACAP (Association of Croatian American Professionals) www.croampro.com , NEFC (New England Friends of Croatia, www.friendsofcroatia.org) and Pajdaši, a chorus and band performing Croatian music.
Prof. Vidoslav (Vido) Bagur, Zagreb, Croatia is an ethnographer and choreographer responsible for reactivation of many forgotten folk customs, including the songs and dances of the Neretva region, Kumpanija – Pupnat, Bijeli maškari – Putnikovići, Peljeac and Nevijska Kolenda, . He is a frequent lecturer at the Summer Folk School organized by the Croatian Heritage Foundation. Prof. Bagur has been an organizer of numerous cultural manifestations in Croatia, including International Folk Festival Zagreb; Dalmatian Folk Festival, Metković; International Children Festival, Šibenik, and Concerts of Maryanne Songs. He serves as resident expert for folk customs at Croatian Television where he participates in the documentary creations. He also shares his knowledge in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the Check Republic, with local Croatian communities, as well as the performing dance artists or dance teachers associations who need inspiration from authentic dances.
He is a co-author of the video book “The Fairy Calls Viceroy over the Mountain” where produced and directed video and sound for the customs, costumes, dances and songs in this book with video recordings about Croatians in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 21.s Century.
CONTACT: Mirena Bagur