Saturday 18 January 2020

Coming of age

In the past in Kruševac and Jagodina, Serbia, young girls which were ready to get married, would get a big beautiful apple, and would knit a red woollen cover for it with white square pattern. They would bring this apple to a fair and give it to a boy they fancied.

I find it interesting that it is apple that was still given as a sign of physical love in Serbia in the 19th c. 

In the past in Mačva and Srem regions of Serbia, a girl ready to get married would make a 2 feet tall rag doll of a girl dressed in red which she would put into the house window. It would stay there until the girl got married. No image of these dolls exists, as far as I know. Maybe they looked like this?

An interesting custom existed until the beginning of the 20th c in Levač, Temnić and in some villages in Timok region of Serbia.  A boy who entered puberty (became "momak" in Serbian), would announce his sexual maturity by making a special staff called "momčanik".

The staff had to be made from a cornel branch. All the secondary side branches were cleared apart from the thickest two at the bottom which were bent and attached to the main branch.

Then a girl from the boy's family made a cover for the staff (it is not clear how, it says knitted), from red wool, with some decorations made from other coloured wool, but the main colour had to be red.

The boy would then carry this staff with him to all fairs and other gatherings, to announce that he is sexually mature and that he is ready to choose a girl for himself. He would carry the staff until he got married.

In some parts the groom would continue carrying the staff for a year after he got married. But this time a new one, especially decorated for him by his wife's sister...

Does anyone know of any similar customs from other parts of Europe?

The description of these customs can be found in the "Journal of the Ethnographic museum in Belgrade, book 1, published in 1926". Serbian, Cyrilic 

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