As any reader of my blog will know, I’m a big fan of keeping traditions alive, whether a village, song and dance, or lighting candles in the night. So many people, however, seem to take these traditions for granted or consider them as unimportant.
I was taking pictures in the old shed behind my inlaws’, grinning that they would not understand my fascination. A shed of old junk, to them.
The ubiquitous orange binder twine.
That old stuff. It’s true, my romantic ideas don’t quite line up with my
laziness desire for comfort. I’ve tedded (turned over) a field of hay with a pitchfork under the burning sun, watching with longing the neighbour zipping through the hay rows with a tractor and a tedder.
There is a fine line, a balance, between preserving our cultures and traditions and not romanticising them. Keeping the best of the past and retaining the best of progress.
And you can love and hate something at the same time. I love that with technology, I can keep in touch with family and friends an ocean away. That my kids can talk to and even see my family. But I hate that our phones have become our world, that I get sucked into a black hole that absorbs more time than I want it to.
Folklore is, fortunately, a tradition that is enjoying a surge in popularity in Slovakia. Each area has its own songs, its own dress, its own style of dance.
But keeping a culture alive takes time, in this hurry-hurry-hurry environment we live in. I doubt that eyelet fabric was made by hand, because who has time for that? Even without that, there are practices to go to, costumes to piece together from here and there (one of those girl’s traditional dresses, for a complete set with boots, would cost 500 euro brand new!!), instruments to practice.
And then there are traditions that don’t seem so obvious. Like November 1 (new photos coming next month). Like zabijačka, pig butchering and the food made from it. Like children’s fire fighting competitions.
So keep your progress, keep your phones and tractors and tedders. Just keep tradition alive as well, getting off the hamster wheel for a moment to appreciate the culture you have or want to create. And, in particular to Slovakia and Slovaks, don’t be in such a rush to catch up to the West that you leave behind your own uniqueness, history, and culture.
(Take time too to, if not to smell the roses, then to go for a walk in glorious fall colours.)
What traditions do you appreciate, wherever you live?