Historical New Year’s wishes from Yugoslavia

Image Source: Screenshot from You Tube

We wish all visitors to this website a Happy New Year. We would like to do so by pointing out three specifically Yugoslavian videos with New Year wishes.

1967: Criticism between the lines

The first is the song „Srećna nova godina“ (Happy New Year) from 1967, which was written by Miodrag Petrović called Čkalja, one of the most popular comedians in the former Yugoslavia.

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Image source: You Tube. A commentary there states: „He looks like the guitarplayer of ACDC“.

He first thanks all the workers and self managers who are on duty on New Year’s night and then criticises the social conditions between the lines. Among other things he says:

We’re not boarding a streetcar, we’re entering a new year, therefore you have to take everything with you. If you got a reduced wage last year, then you’ll get it in the new year too.

After this introduction, Čkalja alludes to the social ownership that was adopted in Yugoslavia in a conscious departure from the state ownership of the Eastern bloc states, and in which the means of production were supposed to belong to „everyone and no one“:

The factories are yours, the hydroelectric plants are yours and also the declarations, the plans, all that belongs to you.

Towards the end he states:

You live in a society that intends to reach a lot, so you have a lot of baggage to carry.

Tentative criticism, but understandable to the initiated.

1990: Hyperinflation and clear words

The next video posted 23 years later is more explicit in its criticism.

It comes from Toplista nadrealista, which translates as „Charts of Surrealists“ and stands for a Monthy Phyton-like satirical programme from the 1980s that satirically commented on the political situation in what was then Yugoslavia. (Toplista nadrelista was at the time one of the main reasons that motivated us to get involved with Yugoslavia. That’s why we are surprised ourselves that we haven’t had about them in this blog so far! We should make up for that one day with a detailed tribute).

Click here for this video.

For those who don’t understand the language, here are some translated excerpts of the presenter’s New Year’s speech, who first wishes for a „convertible year 1990“, as the dinar had become „domestically convertible“ in December 1989 to combat rampant inflation of more than 2000% per year (So you could now officially buy D-Marl at the bank counter):

Then follows a satire on the then usual slogans of perseverance

It is not easy to be a citizen of Yugoslavia at this time, it is not easy, but we are also entering this new year with new privations, with the readiness for the hardest sacrifices, with a strong and firm motto, which is „Three days hunger, on the fourth day hunger again, on the fifth day real hunger, on the sixth day hunger agony but for that on the seventh day beans“.

Later in the programme, by the way, there is a side-swipe at the difficult decisio makeing processes in the self-governing state: a Japanese expert called Deposito kamata (roughly: Mr. Interest Deposit) has proposed freezing not interest rates but people until June as a proposal against the galloping hyperinflation, a proposal that could, however, fail due to the veto of the Yugoslav Water Polo Association.

Willy Brandt and Helmut Kohl wish a happy new year to everyone in Yugolslavia

And as an encore, here is a link to another excerpt from this programme:

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Willy Brandt and Helmut Kohl agree that they would like to wish the Yugoslavs a Happy New Year, but they argue about whether the Federal Republic of Germany should introduce visas for the citizens of Yugoslavia.

Even without any knowledge of the language, it is a pleasure to hear the typical speech melodies of Willy Brandt and Helmut Kohl translated into Serbo-Croatian. We especially like the creaky voice of Willy Brandt!

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