Spring procession of Ljelje/Kraljice (queens) from Gorjani
Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
The Procession of Queens is performed by the young girls of the village of Gorjani in the Slavonia region of north-east Croatia every spring. The girls in a group are divided into ten kraljevi (kings), who wear sabres and men’s hats, and about five kraljice (queens), who wear white garlands on their heads like brides. On Whitsunday (a feast in the Christian calendar), they process from house to house, performing for the families they encounter. While the kings dance with their sabres, the queens comment on the dance in song. The family then joins in a larger folk dance and provides refreshments before the girls continue to another house. The next day, the party visits a neighbouring town or village and returns for a feast at one of the performers’ homes. The entire community, including the elementary school, the church and many of the town’s families, assist in the preparations for the procession, which is a source of particular pride for the women who have participated in it. Although the meaning and origin of the ritual are uncertain, villagers view it as a symbol of Gorjani and a showcase for their children’s beauty and elegance.