Harvest Festival: ” We are carrying crops , we are carrying crops …”

W tym miejscu miał stanąć modernistyczny kościół Najświętszego Serca Jezusowego Fot. Marian Paluszkiewicz

“The ceremonial, ritual, traditional cutting of the last ears of grain , usually entwined in a wreath and transfering them with the participation of the singers and music to the cottage or mansion, where it used to be stored to sow the seed of them in the autumn; since 1927 it has been organized as a nationwide harvest festival in the Polish countryside “- this is the term given by Władysław Kopaliński in his” Dictionary of the myths and traditions of the culture” to describe the  Harvest Festival.

In turn, Zygmunt Gloger (1845-1910), an ethnographer, archaeologist and historian, organizer and the president of the Country Lovers’ Society, devoted much space in his four-volume Old Polish Encyclopedia to the harvest festival. To collect these information, he travelled around Poland and also Vilnius Land. As a result of these trips in his encyclopdia we can find the entry “harvest festival” which contains a lot of interesting news concerning this folk rite.

Gloger writes  among others .: “There are tales that when the harvest had been completed successfully  the ancient Slavic people used to thank to the deity by organizing the games, eulogizing heroic acts,  prosperity and agricultural work which the host had done and whose lea was prepared and who thanked  his neighbours by organizing a feast “.

From this source come our harvest festival’s hymns, the wreath which is brought by the reapers and the feast before the house of the farmer for the entire bunch of people. The harvest is the most characteristic and agricultural rite of the Polish nation. It is a customary monument of the original Polan agriculture  from whom the custom had been taken over by the Prussian and Lithuanian tribes.

Długosz, living in close times of bringing agriculture to the Niemen region where he often stayed and heard old people’s tales of the pagan times wrote: ” The Lithuanians, who lived in a pagan ignorance had an old custom of their ancestors. In the groves which they considered sacred after gathering grain on the beginning of the October, they gathered together with their wives, children, and the household members to give  sacrifices containing oxen, bulls, rams and other animals to their gods for three days, and after the end of it for three feasting, dancing, organizing games and a variety of fun games, eating the sacrificial food (…).

Our farm celebration has features which are full of meaning. Great wreath from ripe ears of grain in the shape of the old conical crowns is a symbol of the harvest and the farmer’s crown for the year round work. Reapers give it to the host to adorn the common room with it and crumble grain for the first handful of the new seed. In addition, in the wreath except field flowers we can often find red apples as orchards’ fruits and bunches of nuts as the crop of forests, ears of oats and barley, viburnum, this having been said the abundance of everything which is given by: the cornfield, forest and apiary and what the landowner wishes to bring under his roof (…) “.

That was the way the Harvest Festival was celebrated at the Vilnius region. After World War II, the traditional folk rite had been abandoned but the Harvest Festival had been still remembered. In almost every household at the end of the harvest season was made a wreath of ears of grain which was stored for the next sowing.

In Soviet times in Vilnius started to carry out the so-called Harvest Fest. The most honoured were among others tractor and combine drivers, especially women, who worked in collective and state farms.

 Leonas Pamerneckis, the employee of the culture department of local government of the Vilnius region talks about it for ” the Courier”:

“In Soviet times, all regions of Lithuania held local events for example the Republican one which means the General Harvest Fest, which gathered the farmers from all over Lithuania. It took place in Vilnius  in Vingis Park. Just as now, there were the stands with agricultural production, the diplomas were handed out, the band groups were giving performances.

After regaining independence, the First District Harvest Festival took place in 1996 in Wojdaty at the courtyard of the School of Agriculture. Then, every autumn festival took place in a different village. Since 2001, the residents of all Vilnius region’s municipalities have been gathering at the  General Harvest Festival in Pikieliszki. Every year the event is organized by another municipality. Traditionally, in the programme are the ritual’s picture, the prologue, the harvest festival’s parade, thanksgiving mass in the intention of the farmers, greeting the guests, the mayor’s speech and at the end of it the artistic performance and fun with dancing. Celebrations are accompanied by food’s, crafts’, ceramics’, folk art’s fairs “.

Apolonia Skakowska, the president of the Center of Polish Culture in Lithuania of Stanisław Moniuszko says:

“Each autumn in my village near Vilnius (12 km) in Nowosiółki (municipality mickuńska) was celebrated the Harvest Festival. The wreaths were hanged at homes next to the holy pictures, thanking the Lord for the new crop, which were supposed to feed the family throughout the year until the next harvest. The wreath of wheat ears adorned with flowers was put on the host’s neck  as a sign of gratitude for the sown fields of grains “.

Remembering the beautiful harvest festivals in fer family village as a president of CKPnL Mrs. Apolonia decided to bring back this age tradition.

In the 90s of the last century she  organized the harvest festivals in several Vilnius towns, including Maguny and Powiewiórce.

“I am delighted that later this initiative found many imitators. In connection with the change of the time of this holiday it has become particularly solemn and colorful. A beautiful finale is in Pikieliszki “- added Apolonia Skakowska.

September 27 in the manor house of Józef Piłsudski traditionally the farmers from across the whole Vilnius will meet. They will bring the most beautiful of this year’s harvest. There will be also the artistic performances of our bands. We could not do it without the song: ” We are carrying crops , we are carrying crops …”.

Source: https://www.google.com/url?q=http://kurierwilenski.lt/2014/09/12/wedrowki-ulicami-wilenskimi-antoni-wiwulski-tworca-pomnika-grunwaldzkiego-i-trzech-krzyzy/&sa=D&usg=ALhdy2-RVCxuDuMZSteAIukbcCAnMv07Kg

Tłumaczenie by Katarzyna Ratajek w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Katarzyna Ratajek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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