Having traversed centuries of slavery, of painful struggles and suffering, the Slavs gather today for the first time in a general congress, and clasp hands for a fraternal alliance, declares solemnly before God and before the nations that the following principles will from now on form the basis of their new political existence. Continue reading
Members of the Sokol club in sports costumes, circa 1900.
The Sokol movement (from the Slavic word for falcon) is a youth sport movement and gymnastics organization first founded in Prague in the Czech region of Austria-Hungary in 1862 by Miroslav Tyrš and Jindřich Fügner. Primarily a fitness training center, the Sokol, through lectures, discussions, and group outings provided what Tyrš viewed as physical, moral, and intellectual training for the nation. This training extended to men of all classes, and eventually to women.
The movement also spread across all the regions populated by the Slavic culture (Poland (Sokół), Slovene Lands, Serbia (SK Soko), Bulgaria, the Russian Empire (Poland, Ukraine, Belarus), and the rest of Austria-Hungary (e.g. present day Slovenia and Croatia)). In many of these nations, the organization also served as an early precursor to the Scouting movements. Though officially an institution “above politics,” the Sokol played an important part in the development of Czech nationalism, providing a forum for the spread of mass-based nationalist ideologies. The articles published in the Sokol journal, lectures held in the Sokol libraries, and theatrical performances at the massive gymnastic festivals called slets helped to craft and disseminate the Czech nationalist mythology and version of history. Continue reading
Fyodor Dostoyevsky‘s Diary (November 1877.)
Some Quite Special Remarks about the Slavs That I Intended to Make Long Ago.
Portrait of Fyodor Dostoyevsky by Vasily Perov, 1872.
Incidentally, I’ll make a few special remarks about the Slavs and the Slavic question. And I’ve been wanting to say this for a long time. It’s just now that everyone in Russia has suddenly begun talking about the imminent possibility of peace, about the imminent possibility of somehow solving the Slavic question. Let’s give our fantasy free rein and imagine suddenly that the whole matter is ended, that through Russia’s insistence and blood the Slavs are already liberated and, moreover, that the Turkish Empire no longer exists and the Balkan peninsula is free and is living a new life.
Of course, it’s difficult to predict down to the last details just what form this Slavic freedom will assume at first—that is, will it be a kind of federation of the small liberated tribes (NB: it seems a federation will still be a very, very long way off) or will there be small separate domains in the form of tiny states with sovereigns who have been summoned from the various ruling houses? Continue reading
Morana or Morena is a Slavic goddess associated with death, winter and nightmares. The tradition of burning or drowning an dummy of Morana to celebrate the end of winter is a folk custom that survives in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. This ritual represents the end of the dark days of winter, the victory over death, and the welcoming of the spring rebirth.
Her arrival was therefore always expected with fear and her departure was celebrated with a lot of noise and cheer. Her complete opposite was goddess Vesna, whom the people used to welcome with festivals and jubilation, at the same time joyfully witnessing the departure of Morana – the winter.
In some aspects she is also associated with Mora a female demon that caused nightmares. She would enter the homes of people at night and torment them, especially children, pressing their chest and taking their breath away, which weakened them spiritually and psychically.
Morana was described as a woman of dark hair and a terrifying appearance or as an ugly old witch “Baba Marta” (grandmother march).
A Battle Simulation at Wollin
Situated at the trade route, for centuries the town of Wolin attracted traders and travellers. At the end of the 10th century a semi-legendary Viking stronghold of Jomsborg was set up in that area by Danish king Harald Bluetooth. Skansen of Slavs and Vikings in Wolin is an open-air museum located on the Ostrów Recławski, a small island in front of the Baltic shore, within the administrative boundaries of Wolin. The museum illustrates an early medieval settlement of the Slav tribe of Wolinians and the Vikings, through the reconstructed buildings, living history displays and crafts workshops.
The Festival of Slavs and Vikings is held annually on the first weekend of August, in the Skansen of Wolin, offering to travel back in time to the Dark Ages and to discover the life and culture of the early peoples of the Baltic States, such as Vikings, Slavs, Balts, Magyars and Russians. The idea of the festival is referred to the texts of the legendary Jómsvíkinga saga of the 13th century, which tells about the founding of Jomsborg and the Viking brotherhood of the Jomsvikings who lived there in the 10th century. The Festival attracts more than 1500 reenactors from over 20 countries, who set up their camps illustrating everyday life and customs of the ancient peoples. The visitors can experience demonstrations and workshops on early medieval crafts, cooking, the Viking ship, displays of battles on land and at sea, ancient music and staging historical events, myths and ancient rituals.