Multinational Hidirellez: Boundaries and Challenges


MILLI FOLKLOR, no.125, pp.35-45, 2020 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Journal Name: MILLI FOLKLOR
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index, Scopus, Academic Search Premier, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Sociological abstracts, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.35-45
  • Keywords: UNESCO, Intangible Cultural Heritage, Multinational Files, South East Europe, Middle East


UNESCO has prepared conventions devoted to safeguard cultural heritage which is regarded as the instrument for sustainable peace and intercommunal dialogue. The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, among these conventions, attaches importance to the safeguarding of heritage elements that are located in multiple countries in cooperation with related communities and groups and encourages multinational files in the case that they are submitted to international lists. Turkey, within this framework, has spearheaded an initiative to submit Hidirellez and Saint George to the UNESCO list as a multinational file and an experts meeting has been organized with the participation of the countries that celebrate Hidirellez and Saint George/Aya Yorgi from Middle East and South East Europe. It has been affirmed in these meetings that many Muslim and Christian communities in the countries of the region such as Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Serbia, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine celebrate the days of Hidirellez, Saint George or Aya Yorgi together with similar rituals. In accordance with this information, the multinational file "Spring Festival: Hidirellez/Saint George Celebration" was submitted by Turkey being the moderator along with Croatia, The Republic of North Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia and Romania in 2013. The Intergovernmental Committee has "returned" the file in 2014 for reasons that the information in the file isn't sufficient to indicate that "Hidirellez" and "Saint George" is a single element and that inventory records of some countries can not be clearly presented. Submitting states, therewith, reunited with Turkey playing the host and decided by majority of votes that the file be divided as "Hidirellez" and "Saint George", taking into account the Committee's decision. Following this decision, while the moderator role of Turkey for the file Hidirellez has been approved, as for Saint George, it has been adopted that the nomination process is started in line with a request from one of the countries in South East Europe. While this is the story of the multinational file, on the other side, Iraq submitted the national file "Khidr Elias Feast and Its Vows" to UNESCO on August 11, 2015 and the element was inscribed to the Representative List in the Committee meeting that was held on November 28-December 2, 2016. Turkey, meanwhile, has contacted the countries that have communities celebrating Hidirellez and asked to prepare a multinational file. The file "Spring Celebration, Hidrellez" was submitted to UNESCO with The Republic of North Macedonia, the only country accepting the invitation on March 17, 2016 and it was inscribed to the Representative List as the multinational file of two countries in the Committee meeting that was held on December 4-8, 2017. Despite Turkey's persistent follow-up, invitation and calls for collaboration, it is significant that the countries that have communities celebrating Hidirellez within their boundaries don't include the element in their local or national inventories and accordingly that, they don't participate in the multinational file which does not place a burden at all. This attitude doesn't support the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in local and national processes with the involvement of communities and also prevents the element from meeting the international community through multinational files.