In Southeastern Europe, we have all four seasons, and we associate each September with autumn and the start of school. The sleeves and coats become longer, the days grow shorter, the temperature drops, and the leaves turn yellow, and they fall faster. Those who worked in agriculture 50 years ago, and there were many more of them than today, had hard days in their fields. They needed a break, and local people, generally, urged for a party shaped into a cultural and traditional festival, to start in the autumn. This is how the Vinkovačke Jeseni (Autumn of Vinkovci) were born, a manifestation that pervades the true spirit of Slavonia and its people.
Vinkovci, in which several Roman Emperors were born, is a place that lies on the Bosut River and always welcomes its guests with a smile. Vinkovci is a town in Vukovar-Srijem County and as well is my hometown, which I always proudly mention. Vinkovci is a place that is also known as one of the oldest cities in Europe, and Roman excavations in the town center show that the town was important during the Roman Empire. Each September, this small town becomes the center of the largest Slavonian manifestation - Vinkovačke Jeseni.
In the autumn, every village and every town is painted with multicolored leaves as they begin to change color. Vinkovci is honored to welcome the beginning of autumn with a smile and 10 days of celebration. For more than half a century, all roads lead to Vinkovci in September. Vinkovačke Jeseni is a festival of traditional folklore but also of traditional music, old crafts, food, dances, enjoyed by all.
During the Vinkovačke Jeseni festival, everyone from Vinkovci, including those who study or work elsewhere, return and gather on the main city streets and squares. The most exciting part of the event is the moment when the parade of people, led by specially decorated horses and dressed in folk costumes from all over Croatia, takes the streets of Vinkovci. In those moments, Vinkovci is transformed into a moving outdoor museum, while tambourine music plays in the background. Smiling onlookers follow the procession after which it is obligatory to eat and drink something. When you are in Vinkovci, it is impossible not to try homemade kulen, sausages, and vegetables with the inevitable homemade plum brandy - rakija and all other eastern Croatia dishes and drinks. The great hosts will feed you nicely at the food stalls!
The festival of original folklore is a particular part of this wonderful event. It is the moment when on the open stage the best cultural and artistic societies from all over Croatia proudly display their folk dances in beautiful folk costumes. Honestly, I do not know of a better event than Vinkovačke Jeseni to get familiarized with the folk costumes, customs, food, and spirit of the people of Slavonia and Croatia.
Unofficially, Vinkovačke Jeseni last all year long - during the winter there is the conversation of the past celebrations, and in the spring and summer, new ones are planned and organized. Vinkovačke Jeseni is more than a festival. It gives life and a smile to all citizens of Vinkovci, and they welcome guests and always invite them to return. This is the best place to get acquainted with the original Vinkovci culture, Slavonian culture, and the spirit of its people. A huge thanks go to the fantastic people from Vinkovačke Jeseni organization who provided me with great photos used in this story. See you in Vinkovci!
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