|This is a sample from one of the “Traditions” chapters that comprise Part II of the book.|
DIMÍTROVDEN, “MICE DAY” and “WOLVES DAY”
“So people worked from Dimítrovden to Dimítrovden?” I asked.
“From Dimítrovden to Gérgjovden. Gérgjovden was part of that system too. People entered or left service on those two days. We used to call those people rátaj, hired hands. Some would start work, others would finishit all depended on the agreement they had made.”
“And could a servant keep on working for the same people?”
“Oh yes, of course. If he got along with the master. Some people stayed on for years and years with the same familyten years, twelve years. They might even get married from there, the master would put on the wedding for them. Theyd have children, and the man would still be a servant. Things like that used to happen.
“Now, the day after Dimítrovden was
Pogánljak (Mice Day). (2) Thats
what we called it, Pogánljak. You wouldnt do
any work, because if you did the mice would eat up your clothes.
Youd have mice scampering around the house if you did any work with
your hands, any knitting, or washing, or anything. Mama (my mother-in-law)
would say, Dont do any work today. Dont go picking
up your needle to sew anythingbecause, you know, I had a lot of
children, there was always something to sew, something to mend . . . .
Dont do any mending today! Tomorrow some darned mouse
will come nosing in here and eat up the childrens socks! And
she would say the word. (3) It would just slip out. And the children, they
would try and try to trick her into saying it againWhat did you say,
Mama, what did you say? Theyd try to drag it out of her once
more. Oh, she would say, its your
clothes theyll eat up! They wont bother with mine. Im
an old lady, if they want to eat my clothes, let them go ahead and do it.
Its yours theyll go after, just you wait and see!
“Then after Dimítrovden is over, and Pogánljak, then comes Vúchljak. Thats the wolves holiday, Wolves Day. On that day you dont chop any wood, so the wolves dont come aroundyou know, they can get into your yard and carry off sheep or goats or something. The children chop and chop the night beforethey make a great big pile! And then they sink the axe into the chopping block. And the next day you wont touch it, you wont do any chopping. Thats what happens on that holiday.”