Haj haj Bože daj (L*), (Rukavice) – Slavonia, Croatia,

*a Living dance is a 1st Generation dance that is still performed in the country of origin (or immigrant communities) as part of a social event like a wedding where others can participate (not for an audience) by people who learned the dance informally (from friends and relatives by observation and imitation, not in a classroom situation). For more information, click here and here.

Slavonia is the easternmost part of Croatia, closest to Serbia, and until the 1990’s breakup of Yugoslavia, of a highly mixed Croatian-Serbian population. For more on Slavonia, click https://folkdancefootnotes.org/culture/ethnicity-history-geography/slovenia-or-slavonia/

Rukavice – the Song

Rukavice (ROO-kah-vee-tseh), Serbo-Croatian for “glove”, is a song, Rukavice being the first word of the first verse. It’s also also called Haj,haj, Bože daj, “Hey, hey, God grant us” after the first words of the chorus. I can’t find a YouTube of someone singing, but here’s the melody played by Lado as the first part of a medley.

Rukavice until 1:48, then todore.
An older version, again the first part of a medley.

Sheet music and lyrics can be found here: http://www.folkloretanznoten.de/Rukavice2.pdf

Above is a screen shot of what you”ll see at the folkloretanznoten link
Same link, different key.

Below are some Croatian-American bands playing and singing what they invariably call Haj haj Bože daj. Their lyrics don’t seem to match what is on the above sheet music. I suspect there are MANY sets of lyrics, especially the verses!

Haj haj Bože daj, (Rukavice) – the Dance

Most Croatian dances move to the left. Most Serbian dances move to the right. That this Croatian dance moves to the right is probably explained by Slavonia’s mix of Serbs and Croats before Yugoslavia’s breakup. In his ©2014 Folk Dance Problem Solver, author Ron Houston says Serbs also do this dance, and that it’s a member of the large family of Serbian devojačko dances. For more on devojačko, click: https://folkdancefootnotes.org/dance/a-real-folk-dance-what-is-it/1st-generation-dances/childrens-dances-1st-generation-or-living/devojacko-kolo-%d0%b4%d0%b5%d0%b2%d0%be%d1%98%d0%b0%d1%87%d0%ba%d0%be-%d0%ba%d0%be%d0%bb%d0%be-serbian-childrens-dance/

At present, I could find no YouTubes of Serbians dancing Haj haj Bož daj or Rukavice, nor could I find any YouTubes of of it being performed by Croatians in Croatia. However it’s definitely alive among the Croatian community in the USA.

Mikey Dee performing at New Brighton, PA. March 2019
Tamburitza Assn. of America, Herndon, VA, 2019
Glimpses of dancing can be seen at 1:34 and 2:56. If you know the footwork, you can recognize it as Haj haj, Bože daj. Eastlake, OH, 2019. Band is Zdanja Stanica.
Michael Herman’s delightful notes can be downloaded here: http://www.socalfolkdance.com/dances/H/Haj_Haj_Boze_Daj_(Radikalko_Kolo).pdf

Another Rukavice – Kotansky

Steve and Susan Kotansky can be seen teaching a couple version of the dance at Stockton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0UtYoWN8ig Again, I could find no YouTubes of anyone performing this dance anywhere.

Another Rukavice – Boxell

John Uhlemann (see COMMENTS, below) has reminded me that Ron Houston’s ©2014 Folk Dance Problem Solver detailed another Slavonian Rukavice, taught by Dennis Boxell beginning in 1972, using the same music. this Rukavice starts with a drmeš to the left. The “Haj,haj, Bože daj” chorus features a devojačko figure. Dennis learned this version in Croatia. Ron also quoted Dick Crum: “Undated dance instructions from Dick Crum state that versions of Rukavice appear throughout Slavonia.” John also provided the link to a YouTube of John Morovich teaching the dance at the 2017 Kolo Festival. Thanks, John!

Lori Larsen teaching Rukavice in Surrey, BC Canada, 2019

I could find no YouTubes of Croatians dancing either the Kotansky or the Boxell Rukavices.


John Uhlemann wrote: “It should be mentioned that there is a dance from Slavonia, done by Croatians, called Rukavice, and it is not the dance haj, Haj Bože daj (Radikalko). That latter dance is, of course the devojačko/Šetnja folk dancers know. The Slavonian dance, which I learned from Dick Crum, and is in Ron Houstons Folk Dance Problem Solver 2014, is a circle dance done in front basket hold and does start to the left. There are many dances that share a common tune, and this is one of them.”

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