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Marijana - The Old Land


Marijana - My People's Painter exhibit

Traditions from the Old Land — Croatia

The influence of Croatia is seen throughout Strawberry Hill and the lives of its people.


Croatia - the land of Marijana's ancestors



After I visited Croatia this painting came to mind.  Everything I saw in the different areas of Croatia.  The villages, castles, city, and the Adriatic sea in the distance.





Mailman Tony Kovac arrives with letters from homeEven though the most of the people on Strawberry Hill during Marijana's childhood had been born in America, they still retained ties with the old country.  Marijana says "It always was and always will be a part of them.  Part of the family might be here and part in the old country."  Everyone waited eagerly for the mailman to bring letters from home.  Many houses contained photographs of the villages the family had left behind.

When letters did arrive, the recipients would read and re-read each one.  Mail was their only direct link with the relatives they had left behind in Croatia when they moved to the new land, "Amerika."


The traditions of the residents of Strawberry Hill came from their Croatian heritage.

The celebrations at holidays, the food they ate on these special occasions, the wine and beer they drank, and the music they played was an important part of the Croatian culture. When the immigrants moved to Strawberry Hill they brought these with them and they became the traditions of the new generations on Strawberry Hill.


Croatia grandparents arrive in America


Croatian Grandma and Grandpa arrive in "Amerika"

Grandma brings all the work —  the baby, crocheting, povitica bread, blood sausage, her prayerbook and rosary.  Grandpa brings the fun —  the tamburitza music, his wine and sljivovica.







Marijana's father with his tamburitza bass and bottle of wine

Father with His Tamburitza Bass

Music is one of the common connections between the old and new lands.  In this painting Marijana's remembers her father playing the tamburitzza bass. Polkas were a favorite of all Croatians.








Musical instruments workshop of Nikola Rodina

Workshop of Nikola Rodina

People like Nikola Rodian helped to carry the traditions from Croatia to America.  This is his workshop with many of the Tamburica instruments he has made by hand.






Grandpa's Wine Cellar

Grandpa's Wine Cellar

Everyone on the Hill had a wine cellar.  Grandpa went down to the cellar every day to bring up wine.






Making blood sausage

One of the foods tied directly to the old land, was blood sausage, Kravavica.  The women would mix the meat, rice, onion, seasonings, and blood together.  The mixture was then stuffed in the casings.  The sausages were boiled in water until cooked.  The sausages were then served either fried or baked.






"Kakoste?"  "Hvala dobro"

The Croatian language was another direct link to the homeland.  Although the residents of Strawberry Hill knew the importance of speaking English, in their homes, the beer joints, and along the street they often spoke in Croatian.  They would greet each other with "Kakoste" which means "How are you?"  The neighbor would reply "Havala dobro" which translates to "Fine, thank you."





Standing in front of grape vines


Standing in front of grapevines they planted many years ago.

The original Croatian immigrants planted grape vines in the tradition of the homeland.  Wine making was a family tradition.








Lukovdol, Croatia

Lukovdol, Croatia

Lukovdol is one of the small villages in the mountain areas of Croatia.  Many came from this area to Kansas. In the early 1900's the people came to find jobs, religious freedom, and a new way of life in "Amerika."


As you browse through Marijana's paintings you will recognize more instances of the influence of the homeland—Croatia.


  1. Introduction
  2. Traditions from The Old Land
  3. Marijana's Childhood
  4. Women of Strawberry Hill
  5. Business and Homes of Strawberry Hill
  6. Religious Influence
  7. Seasons and Holidays on the Hill
  8. Ending