Insurgents at 'Sobitka'

"Zbeeynicks" at "SOBITKA"

    "Sobitka" was a summer holiday widely celebrated throughout Lemkivshchyna on the eve of St. John the Baptist's birth. People referred to this holiday by its better-known name "the holiday of John "Kupala"". Young people everywhere burned big bon-fires on "Kupala" night. These bon-fires were called "sobitkas" in honor of Perun - the ancient Slavic god of fire, lightning, and thunder. The word "sobitka" probably originates from the name Sabat - a mountain in Germany, where the burning of sacrificial fires dated back to ancient times.

    Young people from the village gathered around the fire at night, and entertained themselves by playing, singing, and dancing. According to a popular belief at the time ferns bloomed on "Kupala" night and whoever found a flower from a fern would become very rich, by discovering hidden troves of treasure. People also believed that a coven of witches and enchantresses ("bosorki") was held on "Kupala's" night.

    The holiday "Sobitka" was always celebrated with great fanfare by local "zbeeynick's". Throughout the night, deep in the forest, they burned big bon-fires while singing, performing their own particular dances, and engaging in other forms of entertainment. Instead of a "sobitka", it was not unusual for them to burn the farmstead of the most hated squire. The celebration of the holiday "Sobitka" in Lemkivshchyna continued up until the start of WW II and the eviction of Lemkos from their native soil.

*   "Zbeeynick's" like Bajus (pronounced Buyoos), were considered by the local Lemko population to be fighters, avengers, and guardians, who took back what, through legal means, was taken from the people by the "establishment", i.e., the Polish "shlakhta" (the priveledged class). The "zbeeynick" movement was not only economic, but also political in nature.

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Copyright © 1997 Jon W. Madzelan
This Home Page was created on Tuesday, June 3, 1997
Most recent revision Saturday, May 23, 1998