The largest traditional event in the Croatian town of Županja runs from 18 February to 1 March and is another great reason to visit the Srijem and Slavonia region of the country
Concerts, music workshops, exhibitions, evenings of traditional vocal groups, the Festival of Folk Writers, the two-day Golden Thread Fair – these are some of the things on the programme at the 55th Šokačko sijelo.
Organisers, due to the pandemic, have had to scale back some of the festivities but two of the most attractive ones – Carnival Riding and Šokački cvit– will be taking place this year.
Carnival riding with more than 80 riders
In accordance with this year’s motto of the event, on February 20, more than eighty riders from all over Srijem and Slavonia in national costumes will ride through the centre of Županja.
They will stop at five places where the hosts will welcome them with song, dance and delicious local village delicacies.
“The riders are dressed in traditional costumes: pins, furs, leggings and boots. For Županja, it is a specific custom to stick a pheasant’s tail on a hat. It used to be worn only by single guys, and later this custom was accepted by married people as well. Today, Šokačko sijelo cannot be imagined without carnival riding, which dates back to the time of the Military Border, when our ancestors guarded the border on the Sava,” says Marko Maroševac, the president of the County Horse Breeding Association “Stari graničar”.
Šokački cvit, a completely unusual choice of beauty
Since 1969, when Marica Parašilovac from Gradište was proclaimed the first most beautiful Šokica Šokački sijelo, more than a thousand girls have passed the stage of this unique beauty pageant.
Once named the most beautiful Šokica pageant, in 1995 it became the Šokački cvit, and for this prestigious title in Srijem and Slavonia, the most beautiful costumes made of silk, decorated with shillings and gold embroidery, with some of them more than a hundred years old, are worn.
“The focus of the competition is the traditional costume, its beauty and preservation, as well as the way the girl wears it. The smallest details are evaluated, from the way of combing the hair, decorations on the head, arms and neck to the choice of socks and shoes. Harmony and grace in the walk are also important, everything that adorns the real Šokica,” points out the director of the Vukovar-Srijem County Tourist Board Rujana Bušić Srpak.
Which of the 23 girls who applied for the competition this year will be decorated with the Šokački cvit will be announced on February 25 in the Mladost cinema hall in Županja. According to epidemiological measures, Covid passes will be required.
The road of the golden thread…
This year’s Šokačko sijelo overlaps with school holidays, so there are the opportunities to plan a family trip to Srijem and Slavonia.
Whilst there you can visit one of the farms, the only preserved border čardak on the Sava, explore the roads of the golden thread tourist route that connects Županja with the surrounding villages, visit the Forest Museum in Bošnjaci and walk the forest paths Spačve, not far Vinkovci, Vukovar or Ilok.