CAPSULE STORIES #3 - Mario Mlinarek
“The Cultural and Arts Society Preporod promotes the cultural tradition of Dugo Selo and other parts of Croatia. It has joined forces with the town authorities to revive cultural heritage and also promote European values of solidarity and hospitality associated with St. Martin.”
An interview with Mario Mlinarek, president of The Cultural and Arts society Preporod
How are you connected to the NPA project?
The Cultural and ArtsSociety Preporod has been actively participating in creating cultural policy of the town of Dugo Selo for a hundred and twelve years. We primarily nurture folk songs and dances to save them from oblivion. We also take part in collecting, reconstructing and preserving museum specimens of original folk costumes and old instruments from all over Croatia. We have over 320 active members working for various sections. We are proud of having a large number of children. We achieve the best results in the field of folk art and art amateurism. So far Preporod has won numerous important acknowledgments, both Croatian and foreign. Our repertoire consists of numerous folk songs and over thirty choreographies of folk dances from all parts of Croatia, as well as of folk customs that Croats preserved beyond the borders of their homeland. Among the choreographies there is the ceremony of The Feast of St. Martin's Day created by Mladen Januš, into which he interweaved a number of local traditional customs, songs and dances.
Since when does the Feast of St. Martin’s Day take place in Dugo Selo?
The traditional celebration of The Feast of St. Martin’s Day has been proclaimed protected non-material good of Croatia. Dugo Selo is widely known for this ceremony, which is part of viticulture tradition. It has been celebrated by wider community since 1995 and has become a true tourist attraction. The Day of the Town on November 11th is followed by the celebration of Martin's Day.The revival of the Fest of St.Martin’s Day was initiated by the Town of Dugo Selo (then the Municipality of Dugo Selo) and its institutions. During this period, it was joined by theTourist Board and the Association of Winemakers and Winegrowers “Terra Sancti Martini”. Their programmes considerably contributed to the revival of the manifestation. The Cultural and Arts SocietyPreporod is one of the factors in the traditional ceremony of baptising wine which mostly takes place in front of the old church of St. Martin on the Martin hill.
What are the elements of this traditional folk ceremony of baptising wine?
It's very colourful and cheerful. In the depiction of baptising wine there is a parade of people with bells. The main role is played by Martin the Bishop who is accompanied by his assistant. He is the embodiment of the patron saint of wine, he appears in ceremonial clothes, wearing a mantle and a mitre. His clothes are adapted to the role. He is holding a crosier decorated with the most beautiful bunch of grapes. The Bishop’s aim is to preserve tradition and entertain people as well. He is pronouncing a kind of a litany, in which the vineyard is celebrated and the wine is blessed and praised. His role is sublime as well as humorous and interesting. It has been noted that baptising wine could have been played out "by the rules" of the Križevci Statutadapted to the local tradition. The main part of the ceremony is the conversation between the Bishop and the host, who incorporates the must which is to become wine. The main point is that the must will be of better quality if the host (must) obeys all the traditional rules suggested by the Bishop. The ceremony is accompanied by music and singing, frequently interrupted by the audience. The final step is baptising the must followed by drinking the young wine and cheering to love, peace and friendship and singing a song called Došel bu, došel Sv.Martin! /St.Martin is about to come./ Some elements of the folk ceremony raise the question of the role of pagan influencesassociated with the custom of the wine sacrifice or with the old pagan thanksgiving ceremonies.The baptising of must includes lots of food and the central dish is a baked goose. The people who performe the ceremony do not attribute religious characteristics to the Feast of St.Martin. It is being carried out as a traditional custom and a chance to get together with family and friends.
What is your opinion about the NPA project?
Saint Martin is one of the most popular saints in Central Europe. The memory of him has been preserved by thousands of monuments and non-material monuments. Dugo Selo is a partner town of the NPA project. The town is located on the European cultural route, Via Sancti Martini. Preporod is proud of participating in putting up the memorial plate of St. Martin’s footprint, on July 4th, 2007, to our old church. We promote the cultural tradition of Dugo Selo and of Croatia. In cooperation with the town authorities we work on the revival of the cultural heritage and promotion of European values of solidarity and hospitality associated with St. Martin. Our goal is to inform young people about the cultural values of our region, and to participate in developing the unused cultural potentials. The intention of the NPA project is to develop and pilot IT applications for the promotion of cultural products and heritage-based services in order to reach the younger generations of our digital age. Travelling around the world, we contribute to the culture of sharing, as well as to cherishing the values of our rich heritage. It is our legacy and our future. We share experiences and learn from others, which is precisely the doctrine of St. Martin.