Between 23 and 26/07/2014, ceremonial workshops took place in the Cultural Commune Centre in Werbkowice. Their effect was visible on 27th June during field staging of the ceremonial event (Midsummer’s Eve), conducted within the framework of the cross-border micro-project named “Let us reconstruct in our imagination the things that no longer exist and complete the picture of reality with them”, co-financed with the EU funds from the Poland – Belarus – Ukraine Cross-Border Cooperation Programe 2007-2013, Priority 3. Networking and people-to-people-cooperation, Measure 3.2: Local communities’ initiatives.
The youth from Poland and Ukraine took part in the workshops (12 people each from both partners of the project – 24 people altogether).
1. „Live Lessons” – Stationary and field workshops
Four-day workshops were carried out, during which the participants gained theoretical and practical knowledge connected with rituals, old customs, traditional crafts and ritual art, presenting and preserving local traditions, bearing in mind similarities and differences in celebrating them in both partner communities.
Range of workshop topics:
• Part 1 – stationary workshops
During the workshops, ceremonial traditions of both partner regions were discussed. Expert presentation, titled „A Year in the Country Portrayed with Selected Festivals, Rituals and Ceremonies and the Folk Customs Connected with Them”, pointed out the forms of Polish rites, the resources of cultural heritage in terms of laic and sacral building, folklore, art and cuisine in the Werbkowice region. The participants talked over similarities and differences in celebrations in Poland and Ukraine. Moreover, folk talks, or meetings with local story-tellers took place. They were held by a local expert in the field of cultural heritage as a live record of local rituals and traditions. Before the workshops began, a survey was carried out among the participants. The survey was aimed at learning about the opinions on the scope of knowledge in terms of cultural heritage in both partner areas and the expectations connected with the participation in the workshops.
• Part 2 – Field workshops
Field workshops took place in Obsza in a place called „Zagroda Roztocze” (The Roztocze Farmstead, a local tourist attraction). During object lessons, the participants were able to observe rituals with the preservance of the old customs: bread baking, butter making, candle making, wickerwork. There was also a lesson of bee-keeping and herbal medicine. The participants had an opportunity of having a ride in a chaise or riding a horse. In the course of the workshops, the participants gained some know-how of rituals, old village customs and the ways of reusing old equipment on the farm (a cottage from the 18th century).
• Part 3 – Implementation/presentation of the knowledge and skills gained
Within two days, the participants of the workshops worked over three screenplays of local rituals. Screenplays of St,Andrew’s Day, a Herod play and Midsummer’s Eve were drawn up. Subsequently, one of them was chosen for staging, namely Midsummer’s Eve. The participants made jewellery of modelling clay, painted pebbles in order to make amulets and talismans (runes), they wove wreaths of fresh flowers, herbs and other plants. The kinds of herbs for Midsummer’s Eve and their meaning for old Slavic culture and today’s one were discussed. The participants made elements of stage decorations for staging of the ritual event, as well as make-up for the characters and props. They made costumes and jewellery. There were rehearsals with the roles divided and music, as well as field rehearsals.
2. Field staging of the ritual event
On the fifth day of the workshops, the participants prepared the remaining props necessary for staging the ritual event (racks for wreaths, wreaths, jewellery). The characters were made up (costumes and make-up).
The Midsummer’s Eve ceremony was staged in the football stadium in Werbkowice by the river Huczwa. The event was accompanied with performances of a folk group, the River Wieprz Warrior Squad called “Czarny Odyniec” (“the Black Wild Boar”) and the “Iluzja” Conjuring Group.
In the course of the event, the audience could, among others, obtain or make themselves ritual amulets. Children could have their faces and arms painted.
The staging of the Misummer’s Eve ceremony began at 9.00 pm with the participants of the workshops march through with torches. Old customs and rituals of Midsummer’s Eve in Poland were presented. Both Polish and Ukrainian participants of the project took part in the event. The appropriate natural scenery and vicinity of the river made it possible to achieve the expected effect by means of the passage with torches, lighting bonfires, burning herbs, dancing around the fire, the ritual of throwing wreaths into the water and symbolic rinsing with water.
By means of completion of the project measures, the following results have been achieved:
1. The increase of knowledge in both partner areas in terms of cultivating the rites:
a. gaining knowledge in the field of rites: the number of workshop lessons (the register for each lesson, the programmes of the workshops), the number of documents that confirm acquisition of knowledge in the field (certificates).
b. the increase of knowledge in terms of cultural heritage of both partner areas (evaluation survey)