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History of 'Baráčníci'

 

On the 7th of  November 1873, in the city of Kolín a society called "Svobodná obec baráčníků" (the 'Free Townsmen Society') was formed.

The title derived from the name of the inn in which they held their reunions popularly referred to as 'Baráček' (literally meaning Little House in Czech language). This meant that members weren't an organization of owners of any old house or some small dwelling but rather a group of people with a connection to an idea born at the 'Baráček' inn, officially called the 'U Šleitrů' inn.  It is an association of people who are related to the idea of maintaining old  traditions and customs and preserve the original costumes from Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia.

The main credit for the founding of the Townsmen (Baráčnická) Society has been attributed to Vilém Jindřich Janke, who also requested official permission for association activity, which the group obtained the next year in 1874. This movement gradually extended throughout most of Bohemia. Reports dating to the turn of the century speak of the founding of Baráčnická societies in Vienna and the United States.

In 1895 the society was forced to draw up regulations. It was transformed in this manner into a public association, the main objective of which was to support patriotic and charitable causes.

In 1926 the Baráčníci or townsmen acquired in Prague the current location building of Baráčnická rychta in Malá Strana. The most important construction activities started at the very beginning of 30's with the intention to build the new headquarter of the society. This radical modern reconstruction, made during the second half of 30's, gave the house the typical expression of the interwar architecture.

The Baráčnici and other citizens lent a hand in the post-war reconstruction of the republic, both physically and financially.

The period after 1952 the society was a regular participant in the annual May Day parades in these years. The parades were one of the few opportunities to wear Bohemian and Moravian folk costumes in public under the communist regime.

Today's activity of the Baráčníci primarily focuses on keeping old traditions and customs, performing folk songs and dances in traditional costumes and organizing entertainment events, all with the final goal of keeping alive the Czech cultural heritage.

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