Along with St. Martin’s Day (Martinje), Vincekovo is the most important festival of winegrowers in Croatia, and is celebrated on January 22, the day of St. Vinko’s death.
Today most wineries in northern Croatia will not be open. Due to the pandemic, Vincekovo, a celebration of the new year beginnings in the vineyard, will not be fully celebrated this year. Here is a look how Vincekovo is celebrated in Trema in the central Croatian town of Križevci.
On Vincekovo in the Croatian Uplands, festivities by winegrowers and their friends “pajdaši” are full of hope, desire and prayer for the protection of vineyards and a great harvest.
“Po stari navadi i po običajima naših dedov i pradedov, mi, ovdešnji goričari zazivlemo zaštitnika naše loze”
The winegrowers, villagers and guests gather in the “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, it 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 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.
The Bishop leads the ceremony of rejuvenation of vineyards. The host pours the old wine over the vines and dried meat, while the “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.”
With that the host 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.
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.
If you are in the US you can envision celebrating Vincekovo in the Croatian Uplands as many of the wines such as Pušipel, Graševina and Yellow Muscat are available via online retailer that ships to most US states.
Family, traditions and wine are all intertwined. Živjeli!
Researched, recorded and edited by: Vido Bagur
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, Pelješac, etc. 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 21st Century.