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Medieval Barchan festival


Every year in June after Saint Vitus’s Day, there is a historical festival in Jemnice known as the Barchan festival. This festival is one of the oldest urban festivals in Czechia, mentioned for the first time in documents in 1713. From those texts it is apparent that the festival was nothing new then. On the contrary, at that point it was already an established tradition. Today, apart from a few modifications to the festival playbook, it remains unchanged at its core: four messengers are tasked with a mission to deliver a message to the queen.

According to the legend, King John of Bohemia had to undertake military action against robber-barons in Moravia, who attacked the land in 1312. The king had his wife Elizabeth of Bohemia remain within the sturdy city walls of Jemnice. As the king’s wife came to his mind during battle, he sent four messengers to the queen to inform her about the successful progress in battle. The queen thanked the first messenger with a fustian textile. The second messenger received a scarf, the third tights, and the fourth a wreath as a consolation prize.

The festival owes its name to the fustian textile (called a ‘barchan’ in Czech).  The three day event is kicked off with a festive march with historical characters. Cultural performances, jousting tournaments, and lots more fill up the programme. The festive march through Jemnice is announced by trumpeters and drummers, marching through the streets in period costume.

This annual event was included in 2014 in the list of non-material cultural goods of traditional Czech folk culture.

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