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The Mačkare Carnival from Drežnica

Folkloristika 5/2 (2020): 153–169
Author: Branko Ćupurdija
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The subject of the paper is the mačkare carnival in the Serbian villages of Drežnica, situated at the border of Gorski Kotar, the Croatian Littoral and Lika. The research is based on fifteen oral and one written testimony, as well as on literature. The material was collected from 2000 to 2013 in Drežnica and Bajmok (where approximately one third of Drežnica inhabitants were relocated 1945‒1948), and also in Belgrade during 2018. The research presents two basic stages in the preservation of the custom. From the period between World Wars, especially in the 1930s, when Drežnica belonged to the Sava Banovina and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, until the beginning of the 1960s, when it belonged to Croatia, federal republic of the new, socialist Yugoslavia, mačkare were maintained in the same manner ‒ during the Carnival. They are characterized by: symbolic change of gender roles through cross-dressing (boys disguise as girls), obtaining information about girls and the initiation of young men into the ranks of married people, rural and clan exogamy (except Brzen), music, singing, jokes, and relaxed atmosphere. Mačkare were banned after World War II. Due to significant loss of populace in the war, population outflow after the war, through colonization and subsequent migrations, and the performance ban, mačkare were taken over in the mid-1960s by school-age children, boys and girls, who went through villages disguised and received gifts. Since then, mačkare have been upheld occasionally. That would be the second stage in their development. The main obstacles to their perpetuation are general depopulation and lack of children (in the school year 2018‒2019 there were 11 students in Drežnica).
Keywords: oral sources (material), mačkare, Drežnica, Bajmok, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, socialist Yugoslavia