Dedek Mraz and Kamnik work organizations
THE GOOD OLD DEDEK MRAZ HAS ALREADY COME AMONG US
Dedek Mraz and Kamnik work organizations
The New Year’s tree with Dedek Mraz is certainly one of the most cordial and authentic school events, because it is the only one that focuses on the child, whether he still believes in mythological creatures or not. Dedek Mraz, despite his Soviet origins, has always been distinctly apolitical and devoid of any ideology. Above all, he was poetic and fairy-tale-like and as such close to all children. No naughty sticks, no punishing hoofs, no superfluous questions about diligence and obedience. Even for female and rare teachers, the school New Year celebration was a favourite event. The New Year celebration with Dedek Mraz quickly grew into a popular and well-attended event that brought together old and young.
In the school chronicle of the primary school Motnik I found information that the first New Year’s celebration with classical scenography and with Dedek Mraz was organized in 1948. Children from Šmartno Primary School experienced the first visit of Dedek Mraz in 1950, and the Tuhinj schoolchildren cheered him on in 1951. The pupils were modestly endowed with a notebook, a pencil and, of course, a confectionery. Everywhere she was the initiator of the event Anti-Fascist Women’s Union, the money was contributed by villagers through voluntary contributions and agricultural cooperatives. The trade union branch of the Kamnik District Magazine also gave pupils board games and 2,000 dinars. The Titan factory presented all the foreign children with meter goods. Pupils recited, sang, danced, and above all, young actors proved themselves. At a time when the material situation was still very difficult, the event was especially warm in the hearts of children.
I remember my mother, Vida Drovenik, a teacher in Zgornji Tuhinj, with what enthusiasm she organized manifestation of Dedek Mraz. From preparing a cultural program with the pupils, to raising money for gifts and New Year decorations. In the classroom, our decorations gleamed on the school Christmas tree and our lights shone. It wasn’t until the school event was over, when the last visitors left, that we took them off and decorated our homemade Christmas tree. This lasted until the school could afford its own New Year’s decorations. I believe that something similar happened at other branches, that the teachers there did the same.
In 1960, the children of Tuhinj schools were very pleased with the special procession of Dedek Mraz on trucks. A column of trucks organized by the Friends of Youth Association featured scenes from Grimm’s most famous fairy tales and polar places. Dedek Mraz and his fairytale companions presented the children with sweets. I also remember this procession very well. It seemed perfect to me.
In 1963, Kamnik’s labor organizations took over the patronage of the schools in the municipality. It is not clear from the school chronicle according to which key the individual schools were divided. The Tuhinj school was especially lucky with its patron, the Utok leather factory. For a pleasant start, all pupils were treated to sweets from the Vesna confectionery in Kamnik for Dedek Mraz. The school was visited by trade unionists of the company and attended the New Year’s event. They also donated 100,000 dinars for the construction of a school playground.
The patronage of the Utok factory, through mutual cooperation, grew into a strong bond that lasted for almost three decades, until the factory was swallowed up in the early 1990s. New Year’s meetings were especially cordial, when the pupils were usually visited by a costumed Dedek Mraz with his entourage, snowflakes, fairies, dwarfs, deer, bunnies… It also happened that Dedek Mraz could not personally. At the time, he only sent union representatives who brought gifts on his behalf. Dear children, the children always prepared a cultural program, and the teachers treated them to a snack. It is also worth noting that the factory director, Mr. Horst Hafner, often took the time to personally join the New Year’s visit. He was especially good at addressing pupils.
Every year, the pupils studied the fairy tale game and played it at the New Year’s gift of the children of Utok’s workers. For the children, it was an opportunity to present themselves outside their hometown and they were especially looking forward to these performances. Of course, as performers, they were entertained and especially gifted. I still remember the last meeting in Utok factory in 1990, when they visited the school in the pre-New Year period and presented each student with a rich gift bag. There were 75 pupils at the school at the time.
However, the cooperation was not as fruitful everywhere as in Tuhinj. As far as I know, some patrons quickly went out of business or acted only occasionally. This depended on various factors, on the one hand on the union’s commitment to the work organization. It was useful for the mother to be a student or a local member of the union’s leadership. On the other hand, a lot depended on the teachers, their initiatives and maintaining communication with the work organization. Where it all came together, the collaboration was long-lasting and for the benefit of all, especially schools and students.
It was cute, I can say this on my own behalf, as I was actively involved from 1975 until the end. I ran a drama club where we prepared plays and recitations; I took care of the connection between the union representatives and the school. I accompanied the pupils to Kamnik for Utok’s events, and they always took care of the transport. I am sure that the same would be confirmed by the students and everyone who performed at the events. Over the years, a sense of belonging to Utok has developed, we considered it our own. The cutest time is in the time of Dedek Mraz.
School chronicles document that Dedek Mraz in the Kamnik region has a tradition of more than seventy years. Probably the same is true for the entire Slovenian area. All children, regardless of ethnicity and religion, could identify with him. All this is still true today, which strengthens my conviction that Dedek Mraz deserves his place in the holiday calendar even today.
Tanja Drovenik Čalič, classroom teacher