Don Matej Palić: Are you going to ask a question or…
Anita Susuri: Could you talk more about the people in Janjevo who still follow those traditions?
Don Matej Palić: The people who come are a great support to us, I talked about the care we got from Croatia, our motherland. We get the biggest help and support from Janjevo people who still, after ‘91, but they didn’t come for a while because Croatia was under occupation, so they couldn’t come, they crossed through Hungary. When I went to visit my family, I had to go through Vojvodina, Hungary and then enter there, the trip lasted 18 hours. Many were even scared to come, so for a while we were really alone.
And later, since ‘96-‘97, they started coming more and more, now we have a holiday approaching on the 8th of September and many people come on the 4th or 5th because St. Mother Teresa is celebrated then at the cathedral of Pristina. There’s a big celebration every year and we all take part in it. And then on the 5th, the three-day holiday starts and the preparation for Letnica. And then many people from Janjevo come and we expect a big influx of guests, they even come with buses and then we find accomodations for them, dinners and such. To us it’s a tradition that we love, and it gives us a certain will, energy and strength to stay and to thrive in our hearthstones. And those people are mostly the ones who help this community and the church with material means.
So the church survives and our cemetery is looked after and, at the same time, it’s a big moral support for us. We feel a certain familiar bond, unity, many of them weren’t even born here but they come happily. So five, six times a year we feel the support of our community, of the people of Janjevo and with them, Croatia. That’s one reason for us to stay here, even people still do leave sometimes. There is no coming back because it’s very hard in regards to infrastructure, there’s no water. Just a few days ago, it was gone and we were supposed to get it on Monday, after we opened a well and fixed everything, the power went out. I called, asked around, and the lights in Sušica were on.
So the power grid is very bad here, and if there’s strong winds or thunder, the power goes out. We already know about this, and we don’t have water, this morning my neighbor tells me how they opened a well and they have water. She says it’s very murky. I don’t know why this trend keeps happening to people who live here. Not only to Croatians, even for Ramadan, there was no water, they celebrated, I was very sorry that it happened because you have to greet guests, you can’t do anything. But why is it like this? This treatment of Janjevo, which still is an example of unity, cherishing traditions.
You asked me about the events that mark Croatian community, or Catholic Church holidays happen multiple times a year, and one is in February, depends on Easter with a full moon. Before preparations start for Easter, 40 days before, it’s called, it’s always on Tuesday. Clean Wednesday is the beginning, on Tuesday, you’d make donuts, all sorts of… There’s a big celebration that day, there’s still a tradition from Croatia, it’s called costume ball or a masquerade, and on that day people are allowed to be wild, to act however they want to, to put on masks. Here traditions were always, in the communist times, they used to have these masquerades throughout the whole village. And people used to get ready for months in advance, they made masks, not like today when you just buy them.
And then some groups would secretly get ready so nobody would know who they were. I remember when I was a kid, we’d dress up in all kinds of stuff, Indians, cowboys, and had some toys also. Men would usually dress up as ladies, they’d put makeup on, you couldn’t recognize them, even as priests, on that day, everything is allowed. People went around the village, groups would gather and celebrated the event, then they’d go to houses, usually nobody would recognize you and they come to the house and in Croatia you don’t, but here too, “Masquerade, masquerade, today’s the day, give us something and we’ll go.” If they don’t give anything, then they shame them and nobody knew who you were.
So mostly men dressed up as women, women dressed as men, put mustaches, makeup, everything is allowed. Somebody dressed as a prostitute (laughs), a cowboy, with, Gypsy or whatever, it was like that, all was allowed. They would get ready in large groups in the morning. We’d organize a ball in my house and a pageant for the best mask. We’d have awards — best mask, second best, third and then every kid who had a mask got something. But mostly they’d buy Spider-Man masks, princesses, I don’t know, Turkish TV shows and such. That used to be held at the Culture House.
In the evening, when they get through all of Janjevo, whole lines of masked people, and there was a dance at night. The Tuesday before the fast, tomorrow at night actually, at midnight when Wednesday starts, everything stops. During the fast, many people renounce alcohol and cigarettes. On that day they can drink and smoke but at night it starts. Many give up alcohol, meat, cigarettes and all other vices to keep their bodies grounded and humble and prepare for Easter. When Easter comes, we already have a celebration at the church, as soon as it’s midnight, then everyone lights a cigarette and celebrate again at my house.
Then they’d drink, no drink for 46 days, but then it began, smoking and they can barely wait for that to begin at midnight. Some continue not smoking and some can’t wait. Those are some nice traditions and then we have on the 23rd St. George’s, on the 22nd, everything was allowed again and friends would meet. The so-called Rifana, or St. George’s Day, sing and drink all night, and after that stealing was allowed. So those who made meat, you come to their house and steal something, nobody told you no. And if you get caught, nobody would stop you. So there were groups of young men and women, they’d make tents outside. Our hills up there were full of tents. Then you sing and drink, and in the morning, the music stops, everyone falls asleep, go to early rise, wash up.
There’s a spring there, where a grave is. They go there and wash up, come back, go to sleep and then it’s quiet all day, on the 23rd. So, the traditions that marked the Croatian community and Janjevo still are popular today, even the masquerade. On the 23rd of June, for Rifana, people meet and light fires. They’re big fires and also, nobody forbids it. So fires, people light them, jump over them, drink, celebrate, bake corn, there’s already some then. That’s something we will have. A little bit less now, we only light one fire to mark it. But see I’m trying to get the kids to remember that, some of those traditions are pagan for sure. But it still holds the community together and we celebrate, it’s good to be happy, not to be depressed all the time, under all that technology today and to be together.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: There was never any thefts in Janjevo? Because if people forgot, they’d add it…
Don Matej Palić: Never, never. People now, on Friday, one older man also from Janjevo came to me, brought me something he found in the center because it was market day, “Here Don Mato, I found this there.”
Erëmirë Krasniqi: How was that cultivated?
Don Matej Palić: Let’s digress for a bit, there was eleven of us. And if our mother and grandmother had not raised us not to steal and touch and that’s not yours, there’d be eleven criminals (laughs). We had gardens, fruits, vineyards. I don’t remember that we even had a key to our house. So it was always unlocked, the gates to the yard, house, all. We were all so honest, and everyone that came here knew that, Albanian traders and Roma also. If you lose something, keys, wallet, gold ring, earrings, anything, watch, they lose it. If a Croatian found it, he took it to the church.
So today I still keep an archive for some keys, watches, some gold, some wallets, no documents, of course. They were brought to the church but people never came for them. When something was found, we’d post it on the church, “Found set of keys, wallet found.” Then people knew and Albanians also heard about it and whoever lost it, police knew that it was reported, and if the owner came, they’d come to the office here. Did you have a wallet, how does it look, how much money did you have, any ID and so on. Antonija, my younger sister, she found a big wallet on a Friday. She was at the marker and found it. I remember it had some marks and dinars and a man came, he sold cattle I guess, he got the money at the market.
So he basically lost his whole life, she brought it to us immediately, didn’t open it. I took her, brought her to the priest and the same day that man came. He reported it to the police and then a colleague asked him what he had and how much money he had. He knew everything. Then he got his ID out and said, “Ah it’s you, here you go.” Then he said, “Who found it?” And he called our mom, he said “It’s fine, No, no, get her here.” And he gave a little something for my sister. Mom said, “Out of the question, it’s our duty.” Because she didn’t want something to be given in front of the child because then the kid would learn.
No, and when our sister came out, she said, “You can’t give anything to her, we don’t want it, it’s yours.” “No, no, I want to give something.” Then he gave a little something and Mom said, “No, I’ll take it in front of the priest, but not because she’s a kid, it’s her duty to give it back.” So if we found a dime, a nickel, we had to take it home and then Mom said, “Take that to the church.” So that’s strange to us, I still don’t have any problems here, you heard they were calling and I was busy. I don’t know who came in, it’s a big house, someone could come and do whatever they want, I couldn’t find them. There was never any reason for me to lock up.
I have some files, office, house open, sometimes there’s even money laying around. But no one ever, not Albanians, not Roma people took anything. That was the rule here, no stealing. Through our vineyards, there were some fruit fields, no fences, no nothing. And to get to somewhere, not to go around, people would pass through. You could still pick an apple, a pear or some walnuts when you pass through, nobody will tell you anything. Only grapes were protected from big damage.
Today Janjevo, I only talked about my home and the church, recently our shed was broken into, it’s outside the gates. It was broken into three times already, some iron was stolen, copper and some old cables. I don’t care about it because I have to clean anyway, but nobody here ever does.
Even myself, how many times I left the church unlocked, the house unlocked, I forget to do it or my sister, whoever’s last, but nothing happened. I’m not scared that something will be stolen. I even told them, “Don’t sin and steal.” You can come and say you need it, I’ll give it, it’s no big deal. Just don’t commit sins. But we have some families, especially the Pacolli family who is notorious for stealing, they’re like termites, there’s ten of them. Wherever they enter, they demolish and destroy everything. Beautiful kids, I tell them, “Why do you steal, just come and ask and I’ll give it to you.” Their dad is a thief I guess, and that’s how it works.
They’ve all been to court, the police know them as termites. And people are afraid now, which was never the case, to steal. Even their house was broken into and we always find out who it is. We don’t know how to stop them, they were supposed to move out and go to Obilić but they didn’t want to because they like it here, it’s easy to steal. There’s many different houses, they took every little thing from those abandoned houses. And those who live alone are also scared, they got into two houses, a woman was in church last year, they went in through the roof. Broke it, opened it, went inside, took some euros, some gold, threw things around, cut open the couches.
They thought there would be a lot of gold, she lives alone, she’s a teacher. During the hour that she was in the church, they even blocked the door in case she came early so she can’t enter. So she also had to break in. I understand now, and I tell her, “Slavica, I know what fear is, when you came inside and saw your house like that.” She still lives alone but she’s too scared to go anywhere for the night or to leave the house alone. Now one of my neighbors here also, a mother died and now she’s alone in that part. First neighbor comes quickly or to church and she comes back quickly, says, “I don’t know, they’ll ruin my house.”.
So that’s that, and no Janjevo people would go in and break stuff and steal, but that family, we’re all a little bit scared of them. I told the commander, we talk often, Pacolli, Pacolli, Pacolli. Pacolli can’t do it alone because those kids are still so young. The rest steal whatever they can, cattle, chicken, sheep, goats, horses and then they give it back. People know they steal pigeons, chickens, and they go to them and find their own and take them back. They say, “They’re only kids, what can I do?” But there’s probably someone else with them because in January a van was stolen, a house was broken into, some traces were left at the house where the brother and sister live.
At night, they took some 600 euros, all kinds of documents, the woman’s wallet and some coats. So there is someone else behind the Pacoli family. Now it’s hard, our station is very weak, only five or six officers and they can’t do three shifts. At night there’s only one officer, yesterday, the commander was the only one there all day, entire shift. He can’t even go out on patrol or anything. I said it before, it seems like Kosovo institutions, the state of Kosovo don’t care about us a lot, we at least have some reported crimes. When the internationals were here this year, a discussion in this very room was that there’s no crime in Janjevo.
I say, “If you want, we’ll make them, it’s easy but you’re not supporting that.” We were at the Municipality of Lipljan, police station with the least incidents. I say, “Thank God now and bring more officers so it completely disappears.” Some Austrian looks at me like, “Thomas,” he says, “Well, we don’t have them, we don’t.” “Well, then I’ll make an incident tomorrow. You want five, you want ten, how many? But you should thank God that people live in unity.” Then he was sitting here like this and went, “Well, Father Mateo”… I say, “Don’t father me. I’ll make ten incidents tomorrow, you want us to be first on the list, that’s easy, but why do that when we can be honest.” So it’s good I guess and it’s not suitable for higher institutions, what, we’re supposed to support bad behavior. Crime, drugs, smoking, already started with drugs, they have those, smoke those weeds and stuff. That should be stopped, those places where they meet, I can smell the smoke, and when I walk there, I can smell the scent of it. We’re supposed to stop it, so we don’t make thieves of them because they will need the drugs. If we don’t take care of it when it starts, it’s bad.
But unfortunately, I’m telling you, we made appeals to the Croatian Embassy and the government, and the former Prime Minister Haradinaj was here, President Thaçi, Atifete was here three times. We always talk about that kindness, unity, beauty this place still has, and the coexistence and unity still. We should support that and they should too, it should serve as an example publicly, on TV, everywhere that people can live together. But no, the opposite is happening, nobody looks after us. We appeal, we ask, I asked for the police station to be improved, to get more officers, to get rid of the crime because it’s a small place, we all know each other.
Now there are people who go by who we don’t know and then a van gets stolen, a tractor, other things. That means that they come with the help of some locals who show them, “You should steal there.” I want to stop that, we know, I asked it from the police. They have their rules, I have mine, but I said, my suggestion was to put a checkpoint at the entrance of Janjevo, who comes, why they’re coming, visit family, sit in the tavern, buy some sudžuk, anything. But we register who came and if they do something, we have them registered. Not like a control of the people, we don’t want to scare anyone, but just a simple, it doesn’t have to be every day, but a few times to set it up and these thieves would be like, “Oh wait, maybe it’s going to be there tonight.”
But an officer can’t leave the station, it’s their rules. He can’t go on patrol, you can do anything you want in the village. By the time we call Lipljan, and the patrol comes, and how many times they told us, “Patrol is busy, they’re in the field, wait.” What to wait for, there are no murders here, or attacks, Janjevo is a free place. People can walk at two, three in the morning, nobody will get attacked. But these thefts and break-ins, you never know what the thief is carrying. It’s dangerous, if they come to my house, I think I’d just run, there you go, steal, just don’t hurt me, I don’t want to get killed. What can I do.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: In the past you had a custom of pouring water?
Anita Susuri: Yes, to clean the streets when the priest goes by?
Don Matej Palić: Yes, and they’d clean on Saturdays, that was the tradition. My mother was alone with Dad, but every Saturday, even if she didn’t have water, she had to clean the street from where it’s ours, we knew the line. And if the other one doesn’t clean it, the neighbor, hers stays dirty and people go to service on Sundays. They go to church or visit each other, it was a tradition for daughters who got married to visit on Sunday afternoon her home and her parents. So if in the afternoon people return from church, or tavern, and they go by a dirty street, it meant the houselady was lazy, it was shameful.
So we never had water in Janjevo, same as today. No water, especially in the summer, but the streets were clean, houses were clean because Sunday is church day. God forbid that something is dirty. Janjevo was clean then, I waited today for the rain, to get wet and I got surprised when I walk by, especially in some parts where Albanians live. Right by the curb, bushes, grass, nobody will clean it. My mother or any Janjevo woman then cleaned it, men never cleaned. If your husband goes out dirty, it was shameful to the woman. I remember when I was a priest here in ‘90-‘92 while Mom was here and I step in the mud sometimes, I leave my shoes out, can’t walk inside with those shoes.
There are rugs, God forbid. I take off my shoes outside, she goes out, serves me, goes out. When I go back, my shoes are clean. Many people thought it strange, shoes in Janjevo are clean and neat for years, that was the tradition. To walk out of the house, I said, “Mom, I’m going up again.” She says, “No, [there’s] dry mud.” So the men were gentlemen, which was bad, they didn’t touch anything, but when he goes out, he’s a reflection of how the housewife is. Child, man, husband has to look nice, well dressed and all, yard has to be clean, clean houses. Janjevo women are very clean women, very neat and so are the streets.
It had to be done so if someone walks by doesn’t say, “What kind of housewife is this? She’s no housewife,” meaning she’s a bad woman. Now it’s the opposite, a woman told me a day ago on the street, by the end, she said, “It was never like this.” It’s all stone now, it’s a lot easier to maintain than the dirt before, mud, cobblestone was hard, a rock comes out, Mom puts it back in or anyone. You had to put it back, but it’s a lot easier today. I organized a tractor to go by here and clean it. I go and clean and maintain this circle as much as I can, I went down the other day, cut everything overgrown, thorns, trash. They look at me and wonder, “Don Mato, what are you doing?” “You throw, I clean.” “I’ll throw it away again.” “Not this much.”
I organized these actions a few times but nothing substantial. Even the Norwegian ambassador, the former one did it together. Now it’s this director of OSCE Jan Braathu, we had an activity, Clean Up Janjevo, but what for when they throw it out again. It’s interesting, eats a snack, throws a can, I say, “Why did you throw it?” It’s like a tradition, and now I try to educate kids and I put a trash can there in the yard. Whenever I give them something, ice cream, cookie, the military brings those cans, those water bottles. “There you go, it’s no problem to take four steps to throw it, fifteen, twenty just put it in the trash.” Then we light a fire over the fence. I collect trash all the time, I became a trash company (laughs).
Now I’m waiting for the rain so it gets wet by the curbs and I can take shovels and clean with the kids. It’s disgraceful, everyone waits for someone else to do it, then the Municipality, when they don’t, we do. It’s ours, it was out of the question, it’s mine, so I must take care of it. We do have trash collectors but some people won’t pay three, four euros a month for it. We have a very nice little truck that can go through these small tight streets of Janjevo. We have three workers and I signed some contacts in the Municipality to do it monthly. Wednesday, Saturday, a truck comes and gets the trash. What else do you want, a man comes and takes your trash, he also has to earn money, takes away your dirt and trash. But no, they won’t pay, not even four euros because there’s no penalty. And I made a suggestion two years ago that whoever threw trash, if he’s seen by someone or the police, to report him and to get a fine of 50 euros.
[Interview is interrupted]
Erëmirë Krasniqi: And those carpets you mentioned, did women make them?
Don Matej Palić: Yes, the women made them, they made the rugs, the bošče, women made all kinds of old cloth rugs, and they put them, they were mostly narrow and long and colorful, from old rags and they would go in the hallway or long paths. And they used to make big rugs or just bought them from the markets, from Prizren, those colorful ones. And they used those until those new modern carpets came to be. There are still some families today who used those old rag carpets, which are actually good quality. And they are wear and tear, but nothing happens to them, so mostly all of us had them.
And we had to be careful not to ruin them or get them dirty and the tradition was, let’s say, at night you couldn’t throw trash away or any other leftovers, but you kept it in the room. And then in the morning you could, but at night a young woman mustn’t go outside if she had a baby or something. Those were all sorts of traditions we had, I think they are good and I wrote them down wanting to preserve the idea of a Janjevo mother who had children whose goal in life was to raise them without any issues and who was patient in these daily, weekly and monthly rituals.
Everything that you’re supposed to do was done with the utmost respect for your father-in-law and mother-in-law and your husband, there’s his water if he needs it, everything is in order, the glass is right there, everything. And then he says, “Get me the water, woman.” (laughs) So the men were like that, I couldn’t understand this. Later when I come and sit with the same people a few times, as I walk in, the women stand up, “What are you doing?” “Ah you’re a man.” I tell them to forget about that. So there was a strong patriarchal system and the men enjoyed it. He could drink and do whatever he wants, but he would never touch anything.
Women painted houses, women did everything, and the husband had to go to work to bring the bread. That’s how the husbands were, fathers were mostly out working and their families respected that. He earns money and we must respect our father because he puts food on the table. Our mom, I remember she always used to say, “Dad didn’t bring any flour or things to the neighbors but to us. You have to be happy with what we have.” That was also a major part of life, and I started writing a book a while ago called Janjevo Mother to celebrate these illiterate women but who had a great spirit, great sense of life and who were accepting and patient.
They respected their husbands, fathers-in-law, mothers-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, everybody, whatever they wanted, she had to endure and complete.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: I asked about these rugs because, when I look at these photos from the past, they had the rugs behind them.
Don Matej Palić: Behind, yes for photos, so the čerpići wouldn’t show up. They are something, and so they’d put the rugs up and they stand like this and that was that, the photo was taken which was a big deal. They were so proud, we still do but we had a big Bulgarian community. At the end of the 19-18th century, beginning of the 19th, our people migrate to Bulgaria, to Sofia, Smolen and Plovdiv, and there still are some communities left there, Croatians who still stick together, Janjevo people. Some moved to Croatia, I visited them in ‘96 but not after. So they were Croatians who left from here for gold, jobs, business and such.
And their families here, mothers and fathers had some French documents that served as passports because then Bulgaria was under them and my grandpa had it and it said “Croatian.” So they could travel a lot, even to Moscow. They went to Argentina, to America, there were supposed to be two of our men on the Titanic, Ivkić and Berišić. They were supposed to board, they had the tickets even, but they weren’t able to reach Italy and so they couldn’t board. But those tickets, they still have them, their grandkid Pera has them, grandkid of Tune Ivkić, ticket to the Titanic where he was supposed to be. My great-grandfather, mom’s grandfather, he was in America and we even have graves where they were buried, and everything is written in Croatian.
At the cemetery, we have memorials which were sent from America back in the day, by boats for months, a memorial from America which arrived for the mother, father and so on. So in the 18th and 19th century, many people went there, we have two Croatian communities in America, from Janjevo exactly. Their kids don’t speak much, they call us sometimes, now the Internet has made it easier to contact each other and so they come back to their families here, to their roots, they look for books about it. So from that time, we have some documents when many people were registered as Croatians, religious people, St. Nicholas and such, and they traveled the world.
So it was very developed but because they were smart and wide, they knew. My great-grandfather lived there, his wife died here and my Grandpa Baško stayed. Those who went to America more often, he got a wife here, a girl, asked her, “Marija, will you marry Kolja? He’s in America, he has a son here.” She said yes and they got married. She didn’t know that this Kolja, Nikola Macukić, and so she got on the boat and they travel for three weeks. They arrived in America and she got married and my mom’s uncle is born there, Marko. Then they return to Janjevo and later there, four more kids are born and they still live here. There was no question about it, you want to marry him, yes, do it. Get on the boat, he pays for the ticket and they get married in America and that’s that (smiles).
Erëmirë Krasniqi: What were the weddings like here?
Don Matej Palić: The weddings were very big, significant, held on Sundays. Just on Sundays, not any other day, Sunday and Monday the weddings would last. Before noon, they’d get married at the church, on Friday at the town hall, it was like that. Three days before that, the couple would come by the church and learn vows and such. You knew they had to do that, then they got married on Friday at the town hall, on Sunday at the church at nine o’clock. Then everyone went back to their homes, you’d get bakšiš, get the couple some gifts. At two o’clock, they leave the groom’s home, go get the bride and you’d give a miraz and celebrate the departure from the house. So her relatives then, she goes to her husband but she visits often. The celebration continues at the groom’s house.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Is there a tradition that’s unique only to Janjevo?
Don Matej Palić: Only in Janjevo? Yes, yes, yes, a big tradition. For example, there was a especially for that back then, not now, you’d put apples on the ram and when you go get the bride, some other bride goes out, then he asks, “That’s not hers, this one is mine.” Then she comes, gets special blessings from the parents, which is still popular now. Our people in Zagreb still do that, then the parents, mom and dad bless the bride so she may go into that marriage. Then there were some special songs and women who are either related to her or great friends, they all gather and walk behind her. Parents basically give the blessing, then those women, girls, friends and family come and they give her away. Before that, we had many more of those traditions.
While they’re engaged, on Thursday, it was boja and such. Those are very long traditions. My brother tried to do some of them when he got married to his wife in Zagreb and we succeeded, but again, I wrote some of it down so it may come back. It’s not just a tradition, it’s getting to know people and the family. From the groom, they go the woman and give gifts, what to give to which member, then she packs it all up in a huge suitcase and then they give gifts to him. He carries those home and shows it, then the women look at it to see what she gave to whom and such. So the preparations for the wedding are massive, and buying presents and getting money ready. It didn’t go as fast as it does today.
Today, if we want to get married, we do it. Me, you had to know what’s coming. There were some cases during the preparations, that old women weren’t satisfied that she is getting married to him, or the other one is going with him, so the old women would step in and meddle. Then it was interesting for the guys to see the girl that’s getting married. It was talked about, we all knew each other, then the guys get intrigued. So they’d say, “Where was he before?” But as soon as she starts getting ready, they find her more interesting. Then the women meddle, even before the engagement, someone else got interested and then sometimes they would break off the engagement. And all that happened through the church.
If they got engaged, they had to come here and then break up, return the gifts and such. A grand ceremony, but still significant, and good for getting to know each other. When the bride get to the house, she had to have money in the shoes, then the youngest brother-in-law or any other had to put her up on a chair and she’d give money away. You kissed everyone’s hand and everyone had money. So that was a big preparation and big expenses because whose hand you kissed, they’d have to give money. Then you’d have a lot of money, weddings were interesting.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Don Matej, do you have anything else to say for the end? Something we didn’t ask but you’d like to add…
Don Matej Palić: Well, I’m not sure what to add, there are many interesting things about Janjevo regarding those Prizren songs and all those traditions. For example, we don’t have our own folklore, it’s mainly put together from all these different local influences from here. Sometimes people are amazed how we sing all songs, Macedonian, Dalmatian, Kosovo, Prizren. Some of it I put together and we’re trying to make some music. There are some of our musicians in Croatia who could perhaps make something. We have a seven-act rhythm and dances and weddings and kolo, we mostly dance, we don’t have that typical Croatian dance or a waltz, but we do have kolo. That’s still popular because we have that Eastern, Byzantine melody in our ears and we do sing a lot, very nicely. We’re all mostly very musical people, it’s rare that a Janjevo person doesn’t sing. I think that this area, the air, we’re 740 meters above sea level. And there’s a circulation, how the valley sits, this air circulates and gives us certain phonetics and a clear voice. We sing quite a lot and we talk very fast, very high-pitched, which is interesting for this area.
Now this should all be saved somehow because most of these things we do not have in written form. We do have some photographs, but nothing written down. Why? Nobody could write, they thought we’d stay here always and then it was just transferred from generation to generation. Many people still know about all that, I did record some things and I still must keep doing it to preserve our presence. What you’re doing now is what we should be doing ourselves because this monogram is just one part of it, it’s not chronological, even though much work goes into it. Our Professor Čolak who was in Padova, he gathered a lot of material. However…
Erëmirë Krasniqi: He was from here?
Don Matej Palić: He was from Janjevo. He did have some material which his daughter gave to the Faculty of Philosophy, Linguistics Department. I don’t know why she didn’t let it be published but I’m telling you, that business and what happened all together in the past 30-40 years, the migrations and everything, I guess we too have forgotten what is of value. Then you worry what you’re doing, how you’re going to do it, where you will go, barely existing, worrying about material things and that home life and family. So we kind of lost track of many things. I think we will, when many people come for the 8th and 9th, we already started with these events and try to sort of wake people up culturally and see what they bring from home. We want to somehow get it all in one place, an archive and to open a museum and some culture, to have it all written down, to know who we are, what we are and what is appreciated here.
Erëmirë Krasniqi: Thank you so much.
Don Matej Palić: Thank you for your effort, and when you publish something, let me know, so I know what to do next.
 In Albanian boshqe, in Serbian bošče; Embroidered sheets used to wrap up presents.
 Tradition done before a wedding; Women’s gathering.
 Traditional Slavic circle dance.