jarilives

Jurijevo among Bosnian Muslims 

“Jurijevo” (St. George’s Day) is very popular among the Slavic peoples. After the Christizations of Slavs, Slavs replaced their God Jaril (Jurije, Jura, Jarylo) with St. George since in essence he was very similar to him. St. George is often shown on a horse, holding a sword, slaying a dragon, Jarilo had similar pictures. He was Slavic god of vegetation and the root “jar” means “summer” or “spring”. In some parts of Bosnia, he’s also known as “Zeleni Jura” (especially around Sarajevo, it was believed that one should go and carry Qur'an around house before this day, so the harvest is plentiful) Across Bosnia there is saying “Nema ljeta bez Jurjeva jutra” (There’s no summer without Jarilo’s morning), meaning that it officially means slow shift from spring to summer. Jurjevo is a feast of spring and summer, fertility and nature that comes back to life so it was very important in the life of young people, especially young women. The practices women do are by far most common. People would collect water young women would bathe in. All through Bosnia, people collected so called “omaha”, and it is water dust that comes from waterfalls or mills, people collected this night before Jurjevo. Girls would also collect “miloduh” (literally translated “good spirit”, in English known as Hyssopus), put it in the water they previously collected and then wash the face on the Jaril Day’s Morning. It was common that boys would try to “steal” the miloduh from the girls, but girls made sure to protect it. In some parts of Bosnia, girls would go early in the morning to the rivers and springs, and bathe/take a swim there. There were also many predictions connected with this day and it was usually about girls’ marriage. Day before, it was common to tie a small piece of thread around onion’s stable or nettle, and then in the morning, depending on what side the plant bent, that’s the direction her future husband will come from. Or throwing the old shoe over the roof, the top of shoe points from what direction will the husband come. Night before Jurjevo, they used to put dark thread on the road, if the boy would pick it up, and his name was for example Alija, that means girl will probably marry someone with that name. On the day itself, there are many so called “teferiči”, those are celebrations and bazaars that are popular mostly in rural areas across Bosnia. These often happen beside rivers or springs. Even though those festivals were visited by the families, it was young people who had the most fun, very popular are “Jurjevske ljuljačke” (swings, later on in Bosnia were replaced by carousels). It was common that the “legs” of children are hit with the nettle on this day, actually it was popular to wake the children up by touching their legs with this. Also, people would set fires and made it on two sides, so family members and cattle would pass in between. That was done as a form of protection from snakes and evil eyes. People also put yew on cattle’s horns, as it was believed yew protects from evil spirits. On this day, it was recommended to avoid doing anything, especially hard work, or bring something heavy in home (it was believed snakes would manifest in house). It wasn’t good not to wake up early on this day, because that means this person will be sleepy all year. Jurjevo though, meant the start of heavy work on fields. After that day, the work was more intense and summer storms and so were difficult for villagers. So a lot of the events and customs on Jurjevo were done in order to protect fields from these storms. Also, Jurjevo, among Bosnian Muslims is known as beginning of the so called “Jurjevske Dove”, collective prayers that were often prayed in the mountains, forests, by the stećci (medieval tombstones) or even by the so called “šehitski” and “svatovski” tombstones. These “Dove” (Bosnian word for dua) are often prayed on Tuesday, so they are known as “Dove Utorkovače”. After the prayers, there was often music, food and generally festive atmosphere among the people. These would being first Tuesday after Jurjevo, first one is Plješevca, near Zvornik, then they would continue all the way until Aliđun (Illinden, St- Elias Day). Rare “dove” were on other days but Tuesday, those are only Ratiš and the popular Ajvatovica.