Czech Grain Harvest Festival
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Dozinky is a very old harvest festival observed by all ancient Slavic people. Our focus is on the Czech customs. People did not have as much food in the past as we have now. They depended upon a good harvest to see them through the next year. It was essential for them to somehow ensure that. So, the Czech people began celebrating Dozinky to thank the old gods for the harvest, and to ask them for a good harvest next year. This all changed with Christianity, as the people no longer believed in the old Slavic gods and believed in one God. With this, all that wasn’t connected to Christian traditions had to be given up or changed. How did Dozinky survive after this?
Festivities begin one week before the official celebration when young girls start braiding a large wreath out of various kinds of grains. When it is complete, some pies, fruit, and sweets are added to the wreath. All the people working in the fields follow the last wagon, called baba, to a farmyard in the village. The large wreath is carried by a beautiful, talkative girl. Other girls carry decorated rakes alongside the main girl. In this parade, there are also people called snopy, or zive snopy. They are usually two boys and two girls with straw decorated clothing. They also wear a smaller wreath on their heads. When the parade arrives in the farmyard, the main girl starts shouting, Panimamo Zlata, otvirejte vrata, neseme vam venec ze sameho Zlata! Translated, it means, Dear Miss, open the gate, we bring you a wreath of gold itself! The gates are opened, and the main girl wishes them good luck from God for another good year’s harvest. The farm owner then gives them money and some beverages, and his wife gives them food. The celebrating begins with people singing, playing cheerful music, and dancing. All the tables are filled with food for everyone and all are in a good mood.
One can visit celebrations like this in almost every large city or town that have markets offering food the local farmers have grown. A person can sample traditional foods of this region and can listen to traditional music. Pilsen, Hradec Kralove, Sychrov, Susice, as well as other cities, towns, and villages have these traditional celebrations. In a village, one will see a more traditional Dozinky as described above. Sadly, the old traditional Dozinky almost doesn’t exist as it used to in the past, partly because of modern society, which does not care as much about traditions. And under the communist regime, the Dozinky was used for propaganda. Because of those two things, this tradition is losing its relevance. There is still a chance for this tradition to survive since big cities are trying to preserve Dozinky, though it will never be celebrated quite as it should. But, at least, the thought will survive.