Celebrating in the cold
By Petr Josek
It is the first week of February and all of Europe is squeezed in a deep cold. Everybody is tired from freezing temperatures and the forecast for upcoming days is not good. The photo wire is full of suffering homeless people, steaming chimneys, frozen water and so on.
Thinking of how to illustrate this winter differently I remembered that the traditional Shrove festival was taking place around this time. That Shrove site I decided to take pictures of is known for its Shrovetide masks and cultural traditions listed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
I came to the Czech village of Vesely Kopec early morning as temperatures were lower then 23 degrees Centigrade. Revellers accompanied by music started to parade, dance and sing through the village dressed in light costumes with white gloves on their hands. Trumpeters had to often stop their music due to their frozen instruments. And everybody needed a warming up drink.
The revellers walked through the village house by house, and everywhere the same procedure was repeated. At each house they were welcomed with bread and fed onion, and of course offered welcoming drinks. Then dancing and singing and teasing girls, who actually liked it. There were plenty of visitors all around, plenty of amateur photographers, not to mention several television cameras. It was just hard to shoot a clean image of the tradition.
And at the end, when you can’t hold your camera in your frozen fingers anymore, and you don’t want to upset many more people by refusing more drinks, they all gather in front of the last house to play, dance and sing one last song.