Festivity of Hody in Moravia
The tradition of harvest festivals has been by far the most maintained in the region of Moravia. The word “Hody” can be translated as “to feast or a blowout”. In the Bohemia region the equivalent of this celebration is Posviceni (translated as the Blessing) and in America it is the Thanksgiving day.
From the point of view of rural life the celebration of Hody is probably the most important cultural event as the preparations involve a great deal of hard work and every family takes part in it.
There's a real sense of community, community spirit and community memories. In comparison to the Thanksgiving this harvest festival is more a sociable event.
The Hody process has been tightly fixed for ages and is different in every village. Generally church services to thank God and the Patron Saint for the crops are held from September to November. That is why we can find a good many Martin´s Hody ( held the second weekend in November), Catherine’s Hody (these ones are the coldest as they are held 4th weekend in November), Saint Wenceslas´Hody (last weekend in September). Other villages maintain traditions of the Emperor’s Hody (the date was fixed by the Austrian Emperor in the second middle of 18th century). Hody is also distinguished according to the type, for example Hody with Rights (civil rights are symbolized by wooden boards thickly decorated with colorful ribbons and streamers) or Hody with the Wreath and the Drake (the symbol of this sort is alive drake decorated by a wreath and ribbons. I am afraid, no drake appreciates the care and that is why all of them are always drunk. Fortunately, we don’t see the drunk drakes often these days as this habit has being giving up.)
Hody is organized and arranged by a main boy called “starek” and a main girl called “starka” and this couple is assisted by other young pairs. The program of Hody is extremely intricate concerning the repertoire and the song order, a sort of the costume participants wear, the authority to carry the Hody symbols, the order when the organizers enter upon the parade etc.
After the opening ceremony, when a mayor passes the power over the village to the main starek and the youngsters, the parade starts. The head of the parade belongs always to the organizers and people wearing traditional costumes, so everybody can feast their eyes on the beauties of the dresses. The costume is considered to be personification of ancient rites and customs and it is treated with respect as the ancestors and their heritage are respected too. That is why the extraordinary attention is paid to costumes and especially the festive garment is very rich, embroidered, colorful, but also very uncomfortable.
The parade accompanied by music goes around every house to display the Hody symbols. It's a matter of honor of every family to show great hospitality towards the costumed couples. The matter of honor is also to accept the refreshment – this doesn’t come easy especially to girls as there is also liquid refreshment provided. The errands are to be finished before 7 pm when the Hody dance usually starts.
In the evening the costumes must being prepared for the church service held on Sunday. On Sunday midnight the Hody´s joy finishes and the power over the village comes back to the mayor. Since this moment no transgression is permitted either tolerated.
The following Saturday after the Hody celebration there used to be a dance called “Ostatky” (this is “Leftover”). However, this custom is rather a thing of the past.