May 19, 2009

ancestors and language

Part of the reason I have been conspicuously absent lately is that I was getting ready for and now being invigorated by the Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa pageant and Houby Days.

I was invited to be a judge at this year's competition and I was honored to do so. For those of you who aren't aware - I was Iowa's first ever (official) Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa and was sandwiched between two amazing women who not only represented Iowa, but were also national queens. So, this was a great chance to reconnect with something I have been away from for oh, about 7 years, but it also was a good opportunity to get back in Czech Village after all of the flooding last spring that devasted the Avenue.

Can I just say first of all how much I love kolaches?! I had 3 by the time it was 10am. Seriously - they are good... go get yourself one!

The only disappointment for me that day was that I did not have a kroj to wear. Kroje are the traditional costumes worn for festivals and special occasions and I have one that I wore as the Czech Princess in high school and then another I wore as Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa. (you can't see it in this picture - but I'm third from the left... pictured with the other contestants in Wilbur, NE at Nationals and our "little sisters").
Unfortunately, neither of them fit. And I haven't had enough time to do the proper alterations. And I need to find the time to get it done - it just wasn't going to be in this last month. So, I was kroj-less.
BUT - with all that went on, with all the beautiful kroje worn by men and women all day long, I really wanted to think about making another one. One that more accurately represents where I am now, as a married woman, and as someone who also wants to learn more about her history.
I was so inspired in fact by this weekend that I'm looking into taking a Czech language class this summer (although right now, it appears the class is full) AND I immediately hopped online to do research about my ancestors. I have discovered that unlike what I previously thought, my ancestors on both sides (at least the ones I have found information for) are from Bohemia, not Bohemia and Moravia (although there is a Moravia connection there also). I have even discovered a few little villages where some of family is from!!! From another woman's family tree (if we are indeed connected like it appears) the Benes family that I am descended from has roots in Krasolesi, Bohemia - a village kind of half-way between Prague and Brno. On the Ziskovsky side, Cathrina Toman was born in Litomysl, Bohemia - with her father being from Jevisovice in current South Moravia.
I am sooooooo interested in finding more about these people and where they lived and what the local kroj are like. I would love to design one that represents a married woman's kroj for that area.

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