Tradition vs. bureaucracy: on producing homemade rakija in EU (Case of Croatia)
Melanija Belaj (Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research)
Paper short abstract:
Croatian accession to the European Union changed the legislation related to domestic production of rakija. I will try to show in what way and to what extent this change of legislation influenced the traditional production and consumption of rakija in Croatia.
Paper long abstract:
Production of homemade rakija from the remains of grapes when making wine and of various fruits is widespread throughout the Croatian territory and neighboring countries. During many centuries domestic production of this type of alcoholic beverage rooted itself in family life and in the life of small rural communities as a special form of sociability. Production of rakija is an event that brings together more members of the family in socializing, and sometimes an occasion for a special feast in the wider rural community. Testimonies to that fact can be found in the ethnographic material ranging from the mid-19th century to the present day. Rakija within the traditional culture and the culture of drinking in general is a symbol of unity and sharing. Rakija as a wedding gift or ritual prop is a part of life and annual customs and an indispensable part of the tradition of families and communities. Croatian accession to the European Union changed the legislation related to domestic production of rakija. It regulates the production amount of alcohol per one household and its distribution. Decades ago Mary Douglas deliberated on drinking culture as following: alcoholic beverages make the world as it is, also, they, in some way, make the world as it should be, and besides that they are a part of the kind of alternative economy. In this presentation, I will try, by applying Douglas' reflections, to show in what way and to what extent this change of legislation influenced the traditional production and consumption of rakija in Croatia.
Food utopia and the way out