By Maya Juka
Traditional Croatian children’s games (igre) contain important elements of our history and culture, and they have been passed down through the generations as a way of preserving our traditions. There are many instances where old traditions have been preserved through children’s play.
Melbourne-Australian folkloric group, Folklorna Grupa Mladi Hrvati, understand the significance of these traditional Croatian children’s games and have incorporated these into their Junior group’s choreographies. Vice President and Co-Choreographer Sandra Juka talks about the importance of these games in Croatian folklore. “I wanted our kids to bring something different to the folkloric scene in Australia. These igre are a great way for our kids to learn more about their language and culture, and they have fun while they are learning them! A lot of our parents tell us that they find their children singing these songs and playing these games at home!”
When she began her research, Sandra found that traditional Croatian igre were a dominant factor in junior folkloric group’s choreographies across Croatia, but noticed that these games were largely absent within Australia. “These are the games that our parents, their parents and their grandparents before them grew up playing. They are such an integral part of our Croatian history and it is important that they remain relevant for our future generations. We can’t let these be forgotten,” says Sandra.
These traditional Croatian igre have taken on many creative forms, including songs; rhymes; games and acting, with every region having its own variation of these games. Toys also played a very important role in traditional Croatian children’s play. These were usually leftover props from the household or anything nature could provide, such as wooden sticks, rocks, cloth dolls, and wooden hoops made from either sticks or barrel tops. Folklorna Grupa Mladi Hrvati has also introduced many of these olden day toys into their Junior group’s weekly practice, and from time to time, incorporates this free play into their performances.
Modern times and influences have affected the transfer of traditional Croatian children’s play over to younger generations. Folklorna Grupa Mladi Hrvati’s aim is to preserve this beautiful part of Croatian culture, and to continue to pass down these treasured traditions of the past to future generations. “The most rewarding part in all of this is seeing the emotion from audience members as they are reminded of these long-lost games and are taken back to a time in their childhoods where they too, played in the same way. That is why we do what we do”.
If you would like to learn more about Folklorna Grupa Mladi Hrvati, or see some of these traditional Croatian igre performed by their Junior Group, you can visit their website www.mladihrvati.com.au and follow the link to their YouTube channel, or you can follow them on their facebook page at www.facebook.com/mladihrvati.folklornagrupa.3
Na Mladima Svijet Ostaje!