Carnival in Vlkolínec was full of fun.
It is the period of time which starts on the Feast of Three Kings and ends on Ash Wednesday, which is followed by a 40-day fasting period, until Good Friday. As the date of Ash Wednesday varies, the carnival season sometimes ends in February and sometimes in March. The carnival is linked to the early spring ceremonies of the ancient Slavs from the pre-Christian times.
In Vlkolínec, similarly to other villages in Liptov, a long period of partying – “bursa” was typical for the carnival season. The “bursa” normally took place at the end of February and the participants were young, single citizens. The “bursa” participants were all young men over the age of 16 and each of them had to have a decorative feather placed in the hat, prepared by their girlfriends or sisters. Apart from the hat, young men also wore cloth pants, a linen shirt, a fur coat and peasant’s shoes called “krpce”.
The oldest of the young men was named the mayor of the “bursa” party. During the party, he carried a mayor’s stick decorated with jewellery. Musicians were also a part of “bursa”. Before “bursa” could begin, people had to prepare a spirit called “hriatô”, to have a drink for the party. The partying men went from one house to another, carrying a basket for eggs and a skewer for bacon and sausages. The men had to twist and turn all the women in dancing and the women rewarded them with bacon, sausages, eggs or money.
Finally, the partying men went into the house where the “bursa” party was taking place. In a large pot, young women were preparing scrambled eggs, into which they also added bacon, sausage, onion and garlic. Then, everyone at the party said prayers and after that they all scooped a serving of the eggs, which they washed down with “hriatô” spirit. After that, it was the time for musicians to start playing after the good meal, so people could dance until midnight.
However, that was not everything, a proper “bursa” lasted for 3 days. On the second day, women baked scones – locally called “krapne”, with plum jam filling. In the evening, the party continued, once again starting with scrambled eggs. On this day, dancing lasted until midnight as well.
The third and the last day of the “bursa” party always fell on Tuesday before the Ash Wednesday. Before dinner, people in Vlkolínec had a ritual of giving left-over bacon from the party to the poorer households. Right before midnight, musicians played the wildest tunes, and at midnight, everything went quiet and stopped dancing. Young men took the double bass, covered it with a black sheet and brought it outside on the patio. That was the beginning of the bass burial ceremony. The “bursa” participants carried the bass in the same way as people carry the coffin at funerals and they pretended to cry. They walked the street all the way to the belfry, where they put the bass down on the ground and gave it one last cry. That is how the carnival ended and the young men and women went back to their houses.