Discovering Novi Bečej: Stories, people, history

By the paths of the past: Discover the rich history, interesting events and unforgettable people who have shaped Novi Bečej through time, as we return together to the heart of this beautiful city on the banks of the Tisza.

Entertainment and Recreation

I will describe the entertainment and recreation of the agricultural population, as it represented around 70% of the total population of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo. For officials, merchants, and artisans, entertainment has already been described in earlier chapters: football, swimming and bathing in the Tisa River, evening outings to taverns, walks along the promenade and valleys, Sokol society, musical ensembles, amateur theater groups, and the like.

The agricultural population had very little free time on working days from March to November, which could be used for systematic or at least planned recreation. These were mostly Sundays and holidays.
On Sunday mornings, the elderly went to church. Serbs, in a smaller proportion, while among Hungarians, attending churches was much more massive, not only for the elderly but also for the young and even the youth.
On Sunday mornings, men used to go to the market to meet their peers and stop by a tavern for a brandy before lunch. There was a difference in behavior between Hungarians and Serbs. While Serbs acted as mentioned earlier, among Hungarians, especially the winegrowers, who were most numerous at that time, it was almost a rule that from 9 o'clock - as soon as they arrived at the market, they would immediately go to the taverns and drink until 12 o'clock and even longer.

Women prepared lunch, baked strudel or pastry with fruit, or semolina, and in the fall, it was mandatory to make it with pumpkin or cheese. Strudel was almost always with poppy seeds, cream (kajmak), carob, and often with plum jam.
In the afternoon, the elderly used Sunday to rest after lunch and, from 4-5 pm, go out on the street to sit on a log in front of their houses and chat. Both men and women did this. Of course, men and women were separated, men in front of one house and often across the street, women in front of another house.
In almost every street, there was a place where card games were played. Small stools were brought out onto the street (the ones made by Gypsy basket weavers), and the one whose house they were playing in would bring out a stool or a small table, and the card games would go on from 4 pm until dark. Perhaps someone would run to water the horses and cows in the evening and quickly return to continue where someone had replaced him during that time. The game was played in groups of four players, and the upper trump suit, stronger than the trump, were the upper cards, of which the poppies were the strongest, followed by the green, then red, and the weakest was the pumpkin, but it was even stronger than the ace of trumps.

They were so engrossed in the game that the noise could be heard from one end of the street to the other. "Kill," "full" are words shouted at the top of their lungs. Not only were these four players loud, but there were always at least twice as many present supporters who complemented the heated atmosphere with their cheering. We, as children, enjoyed watching that fanatical support, or encouragement, and in the end, which was the most beautiful but also the loudest, laughter and comments on the mistakes made by individuals. This was repeated every Sunday until autumn and when the weather turned colder.

Women sat on the street until dark. Some would sneak away to feed the children in the evening and put them to bed, then return to listen or participate in the conversation with their closest neighbors on the street.

Younger farmers, especially boys, on Sundays, early in the morning, went to pasture with their "matched" horses and stayed there until evening. It was a break for the horses, and the boys would gather and play with sticks, or lie on the grass or straw, which was their recreation for the week. Wealthier ones took their oxen to pasture, and their Sunday rest passed like those who took their horses for grazing. They were usually together because the larger the group, the more interesting the games and stories, but they made sure that the horses did not get too close to the oxen, as there could be a danger from the ox horns.

Younger ones who would spend Sunday at home would gather around 10 am in a specific street, which had a long free wall without houses and windows, and no major ditches, where they played "girls" - "rubbing" (in Vranjevo, this game was called "girls," and in Novi Bečej, "rubbing").

This is a ball game - a rag ball. The ball had a diameter of 10-12 centimeters, made of old rags, embroidered with a rope so tightly that it became quite heavy and could be thrown like any snowball, up to 30-40 meters, or when hit with a stick, it could fly 50 meters or more. Both boys and girls participated in the game, but it was mostly dominated by boys. The division was into two equal groups, and on a large wall, or if the wall was not large enough, then on the street, they would draw a line with chalk, which was the center of the playing field. The ball was thrown to one of the teams, and they had to throw it as far as possible, and the other team had to try to catch it, while the thrower ran to a previously agreed place, which was their goal. The goal was to touch the wall with the ball. The boys waited for the thrower to pass the halfway line, and they would throw the ball into the air with the intention of reaching the goal before the thrower. If they succeeded in catching the ball before the thrower reached the goal, they would run after the thrower, and if they hit him with the ball, he was out of the game. If the thrower managed to touch the wall, it was his team's point. They threw the ball alternately, each boy in his turn, and the girl who caught the ball could run forward, holding the ball in her hand and no one could touch her. If, during the run, she was hit by the ball, the point was scored, if she did not reach the goal and hit the wall with the ball.

The game was interesting, lively, with constant movement and effort, and could be watched by spectators for a long time. Boys played it even after the dark, provided there was a light, such as a lantern or a window light from a nearby house, but they had to stop the game by 9 pm, because that was the time for the curfew when it was time for everyone, including boys, to go to bed.

In Novi Bečej, they also had a very popular game called "grabbing the ball." The playing field was round, about 30 meters in diameter, and one team had to throw a ball in the air, and the other team had to catch it. The one who caught the ball threw it into the air, and the opposing team had to catch it. If the ball fell to the ground, the team that threw it received a point. The game lasted until one team reached 21 points. When that happened, the teams would switch sides. The side that reached 21 points first on both sides won. The game was very dynamic, as it was played with both hands, there was a lot of running and jumping, and it was also a team effort.

The rules were strictly followed. It was not allowed to touch the opponent or interfere with his jump or throwing the ball in any way. Everyone, without exception, followed the rules. I don't know where the game came from, but it was so old that it was no longer known. It was played only on holidays, during a break from work in the fields when they were exhausted and wanted some fun and recreation.
Young people, after the pasture, would go to the river to bathe, and in the evening, they would visit one of the local taverns for a drink, or go to someone's house where they would sing, play, and dance, and in some places, there were folk dance groups that practiced throughout the year, and would occasionally perform at local events or festivals.

These were the forms of entertainment and recreation for the agricultural population in Novi Bečej and Vranjevo. It was simple, communal, and largely centered around outdoor activities, socializing, and traditional games. These activities provided a break from the hard work in the fields and allowed people to come together, enjoy each other's company, and have some fun. The communal spirit and the close-knit nature of these communities were evident in the way people engaged in these activities together.

Related Articles