As to its theme, Journal of Ethnology 2/2009 is aimed at the social culture, mainly at the contemporary rituals, customs and habits. Dorota Simonides directed her essay to theoretic reflections on the essence and sense of customs in human’s life, when comparing traditional and contemporary culture (A custom in human’s life in the past and today). Daniel Drápala deals with the documentation of boys´ and girls´ spring rounds in the inter-territory between the ethnographical areas of Wallachia and Hanna (On social and economic functions of children’s spring rounds in Záhoří). Lenka Polaková and Marta Ulrychová investigate the contemporary form of a ritual based on the miner´s tradition, whose roots are documented as early as in the 18th century in the mentioned social and professional environment (Jumping over the leather apron. A contribution to the contemporary situation in miners´ rituals). Gabriela Kiliánová informs about knowledge on funeral rituals, based on the long-term feedback research in the territory of Western Slovakia (To pass away in peace. Two examples of contemporary funeral ceremonies in Western Slovakia). Marta Ulrychová elucidates Shrovetide speeches and significant tradition bearers in the village of Postřekov (A figure of a judge at Shrovetide in the village of Postřekov).
Transferring Tradition column publishes the contributions by Eva Večerková (Decorated Eggs made by Josef Vavroš from Studénka) and Petra Košlíková (Everyday’s Magic. An example of touching the cherub “vošahlík” beside the church of St. Bartholomew in Pilsen). Interview column introduces Račko Popov, the Bulgarian ethnologist. Social Chronicle includes the obituary notes of musicologist Rudolf Pečman (1931–2008), violinist Bohumil Smejkal (1935–2009) and choreographer Luboš Ogoun (1924–2009). Other regular columns deal with archive photos, exhibitions, festivals and shows, reviews of new books and reports from the branch. Discussioncolumn raises the theme on ethic in ethnology, which is to continue in the next issues of the Journal.
A custom in human´s life in the past and today
The term „custom“ is not always used explicitly in science. It has three meanings, at least. The first one is a way of behaviour, the second one specifies habits and rites aimed at aesthetical needs of the society, while the third one is connected with unwritten customary law. In life, however, we do not meet those meanings separately but they penetrate each other. We always must take into consideration the time and social conditionality of the analyzed phenomena. A (family, work, local) community is the bearer of customs. The contemporary communities often differ from those traditional ones. A present human does not submit to the press of the environment in which he/she lives. The cause can be seen in the world view change and in the modification of ethos. The cease of traditional customs, which were based on the system of values accepted by the majority, results, however, in the lability of moral standards and the relativization of ethic behaviour.
On social and economic functions of children’s spring rounds in Záhoří
The region of Záhoří spreads out between the ethnographical areas of Walachia and Hanna. The specific social and economic development in the course of the last two centuries enabled many events of the annual cycle of rituals to survive here. The spring rounds of girls and boys rank among the most significant ones. On Passion Sunday, the round with the Reaper falls (the villages of Býškovice, Libosváry, and Žákovice); the uninterrupted performance of rounds with a tree on Palm Sunday (Libosváry) is documented. The so-called “rattling” is a typical spring round of groups of boys, taking place from Maundy Thursday to Holy Saturday (the rounds take place in almost every village of the region). In spite of the different genesis, we can identify many common features at the above ritual rounds. They play an important role in passing the social habits and experience among the children’s group members of different age. The leader who crowns his share in activities of school-age children with this function is a leading element for boys and girls. Because of the social changes in the course of the last two centuries, the content and form of the rounds have been modified and shifted; many ritual elements have slipped away – on the contrary, the social and entertainment function is dominating. The economic aspect – a share in given presents (money, sweets) – is an important motivation for children to participate in the rounds.
Jumping over the leather apron. A contribution to the contemporary situation in miners´ rituals
At Universities of Mining, plenty of rituals occurred, which accompanied the life of their students. The “jumping over the leather apron” was one of them – a rite of passage after whose passing a novice was admitted to the miners´ profession. In our territory, this tradition had been maintained during the existence of Academy of Mining in the town of Příbram, i.e. until 1939 when this university was dissolved. The “jumping” was restored as late as in 1946, i.e. one year after the higher education of mining had been moved to the town of Ostrava. As a part of matriculation, it has fulfilled its function until now here. The mentioned contribution portrays one of the contemporary forms of the rite in the region of Karviná which is one of the regions where the mines are still in operation. The participants come from the ranks of their employees. The rite is held once a year in the course of miners´ meetings called “šachťáky – coal mine meetings”. With this name, also the entire event is called. The rite functions only as one of the kinds of entertainment, its primary function has yielded in favour of the entertainment and relaxation functions. The authors emphasise the need to study the miners´ rites including the “jumping” that is performed also in other places of the Czech Republic today.
To pass away in peace. Two examples of contemporary funeral ceremonies in Western Slovakia
The contribution submits the detailed empiric data on funeral ceremonies for an old and a young woman in one village in Western Slovakia in 2003 and 2004. During her field research, the author had the opportunity to monitor the burial as a ritual activity in the public space. In her contribution, she thoroughly describes the activities and behaviour of persons involved in the ceremony, as they followed with the time, and as she could observe them at the church, in the cemetery or in the street. She mentions her comments on the performance and behaviour of the persons involved in the ceremony, which she has obtained from the respondents of the research. Within the description, she pays her attention also to the ritual objects. She deals especially with flower decoration and flower presents at the burial. She discusses the selected examples in dependence on the social relations within the local community. She observes the changes of the ceremony during the time, comparing the selected examples with other similar burials in the locality in the course of three decades.
A figure of a judge at Shrovetide in the village of Postřekov
As in many other villages in the ethnographical area of Chodsko, Shrovetide in Postřekov has a long-year-tradition. The restoration of its present form, however, goes back to the 1960s. The figure of a judge, which is probably connected with the figure of a bishop portrayed in the picture by Jaroslav Špillar from the 1890s, can be recognized as one of the adopted elements. The conviction of the figure of so-called Masopust (Shrovetide) is one of the top points on Shrovetide Tuesday. It is preceded by the judge’s speech that is to assess the important events of the calendar year in a satiric way. In the course of twenty-seven years, Stanislav Vogeltanz, the local native, was holding this role in Postřekov. The author’s text is based on the typed set of his texts from 1976–2002 that served as the basis for Vogeltanz´s performances in front of the entire village community. She analyses its content and structure, drawing the attention to constant and variable elements. A part of the text is devoted to Ladislav Foist, Vogeltanz´s follower. By him, the author takes into account the changes included into the speeches by this teacher from Poběžovice, and she tries to determine to what extent his performance is influenced by the relationship to his ancestor and by the collective’s censorship.