Glasnik Etnografskog instituta SANU 2004 Volume , Issue 52, Pages: 155-164
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Vasilica and self-determination of Roma
Zlatanović Sanja M.
Vasilica and Đurđevdan are the two most important holidays in the yearly cycle among the Roma of Vranje (Southern Serbia). While they connect the celebration of Đurđevdan (6th of May) mainly with the culture of the Serbian majority group (whose elements they assimilate, giving them a specific interpretation), Vasilica is considered to be a true Roma holiday. During the discussions, all the informants emphasized that Vasilica is the most important Roma holiday, more significant than Đurđevdan. Vasilica consists of two segments. The date of the first one, which can be called the preparation, greeting and celebration of Vasilica, is a fixed one (from 12th to 17th of January, 14th of January being the actual holiday), while the date of the second segment -farewell to the goose - is set individually by every household. This paper offers a thick description of both segments of Vasilica, depicting the way it has been celebrated between 2001 and 2004 in the settlements Gornja Čaršija and Sarajina of Vranje. It also includes selected statements of the informants, as well as the text of the local TV broadcast dedicated to the celebration of Vasilica. The different explanations of the origin of this most important Roma holiday, in light of the current identity problems in Serbia - both of the majority and of the minority group - point to the complexity and polysemy of the answer to the question: Who am I? The aim of this paper is to offer an empirical insight into the situation.
Keywords: Roma, Vranje, Vasilica, holiday, yearly cycle, goose, identity, self-identification
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