Christmas and New Year run-up in Jelsa

Published in Highlights

Jelsa's children enjoyed evenings and days of fun in the run-up to Christmas and beyond. 

Jelsa's Christmas tree arriving Jelsa's Christmas tree arriving Vivian Grisogono

Christmas decorations are not elaborate on Hvar Island. There is no rivalry between the towns and villages for the most original or flamboyant displays. In the main, the same decorations are used year after year. The Christmas lights in the towns are mainly permanent fixtures, unobtrusive through most of the year until the moment comes for them to be switched on. Jelsa's Christmas tree is similarly thrifty, an enormous plastic construction which is brought out from its hibernation annually to be placed in its surprisingly small mount, which for the rest of the year is hidden under an ordinary paving stone.

This year the Christmas tree was unveiled on Thursday December 11th. I have never worked out what logic dictates the date of its appearance. As usual, on the appointed day the paving stone was removed to reveal the mount in readiness for the impending arrival.

The tree was borne into Jelsa's Pjaca in majestic grandeur on the back of a lorry, and was expertly hoisted off by a large crane.

It is the responsibility of the company Jelsa Plus d.o.o., which is also in charge of the car park and other facilities in the Jelsa Council area, under the able guidance of Director Niko Salamunić. The Jelsa Plus team has plenty of experience in placing the tree securely and making sure it stands up straight. 

The final touch requires work on the crown of the tree, putting the star into place. Once wired up, the tree is ready for action. Jelsa Plus' electrician Antonio Reljanović clambered nimbly up the ladder to complete the task. The whole installation took just twenty-two minutes from the time the transport lorry rounded the corner in front of the Town Hall, a great example of efficient teamwork, born of long experience.

The tree and the Christmas lights adorning Jelsa central buildings may be modest by comparison with other places, but they form a perfect background for Christmas fun. On Sunday 14th December, Jelsa's Udruga Karnevol (Carnival Association, a registered Charity), famed for providing excellent family entertainment in Jelsa not only at Carnival time in the spring, but at all times of the year, put on a special party for the children, with traditional refreshments, entertainments, music and dancing.

The weather was perfect, a calm, mild evening at the end of a warm sunny day.

Guests of honour for the occasion were Jelsa's handball team, who are currently top of the Croatian National Second League (South region). Jelsa's mayor Nikša Peronja (pictured above in the dark duffle coat) presented the players with a magnificent cake - presumably to give them energy for their further endeavours.

There was also a prize draw, won by Katarina Lučić-Lavčević, seen here holding her son Roko while receiving her prize from Danijela Tomić and Dražen Sarjanović. It can fairly be said that a good time was had by all, and the evening was a perfect joyful preparation for the Christmas celebrations.

On Saturday December 20th, the Udruga Karnevol organized another Christmas treat, this time a children's party in the early evening, with plenty on offer for the grown-ups as well. There was plentiful aromatic mulled wine - not that the evening was cold, but it was still welcome for all that. There were stalls selling Christmas gifts and decorations, as well as some of Dalmatia's wonderful traditional Christmas sweets and cakes.

The Udruga Karnevol comprises only about ten members, who are totally committed to providing 'cultural entertainment', especially for the young in the local community. There is strong teamwork in the group and among the families of the group's members.

The Bunčuga family features strongly, especially on the food and drinks side. The Zagorac family leads the way with music and a very professional sound system, under the control of father Žare with his younger son Luka, while Žare's wife Andrea and their daughter Marija organize the children's dancing, which is a special source of enjoyment for all concerned.

The children also participated in Christmas-themed recitals, performing with charm, diffidence and confidence in balanced measure.

Such public recitals do wonders for children's ability to communicate to an audience, and for their self-confidence. The teamwork involved also establishes trust and friendships which usually last for years. Experiences such as these apparently simple Christmas festivities stand these youngsters in good stead. The goodwill generated is beyond price. We at Eco Hvar congratulate the selfless and tireless organizers of these events and all those who work with them. We wish them continuing success in 2015.

It is not customary to wish people "Happy Christmas" before Christmas Day in Dalmatia, although some people now do. The traditional greeting on Christmas Eve in Jelsa is "Na dobro Vam došao Bodnji don" during the day, or "Na dobro Vam došla Badnja veče" in the evening. Throughout Croatia, local councils provide a traditional Christmas Eve feast of bakalar, salt cod served as a stew. This is a custom which has arisen since Croatia became independent and religious customs like Christmas were once again celebrated freely after the long years of Communist discouragement. Jelsa Council takes on the role willingly every year. As the weather is generally mild, the cafes are jam-packed with guests of all ages for the occasion.

The bakalar is served in large quantities in the late morning, so people gather for coffee, beers or stronger aperitifs, moving on to the bakalar, which for some is lunch, for others a kind of brunch.

The bakalar is served piping hot, which makes it a filling dish.

One stand holds the vats of bakalar, a second provides the bread, napkins and utensils. Even in the busiest moments, the speciality is served up with good humour by the super-efficient young team, suitably attired in festive garb.

There are also four-legged friends among the guests, which is always pleasant for those of us who like to have animals around. One very calm little terrier was in the company of Vrisnik's favourite adopted son, Belgian Norbert Bossaert. Unfortunately, a lot of dogs are petrified - quite rightly and reasonably - by the firecrackers which youngsters throw around with careless abandon at this time of year, so many dog-owners have to keep their pets shut at home to avoid panic. There is talk of a change in the law to limit the sale and use of these 'mini-bombs' as one friend describes them, and that would be most welcome.

 

A couple of well-socialized dogs who were allowed to roam free took advantage of the thinning crowds to have a boisterous game in the middle of the square by the Christmas tree.

Somewhere between 1 and 2 pm, the cafes empty out, as people drift off home. Most will rest in preparation for the marathon midnight mass, which in Jelsa usually starts just before midnight and goes on until after 1 am. That marks the arrival of Christmas, when people can officially say "Sretan Božić".

 

Sadly, in the days following Christmas there was some fierce windy weather, and the ferocious bura (northerly wind) brought down electricity lines and tore through Jelsa's Christmas tree after many years' service. On New Year's Eve the tree was a sorry-looking sight. However, it had done its bit for 2014. New Year's Eve, St. Sylvester's Day, is celebrated with the same wild elation in Croatia as elsewhere in the world. Some places, including Hvar Town, Split, Rijeka and Dubrovnik as well as the capital Zagreb of course, are famous for having great music and wonderful festive gatherings to welcome each New Year. In Jelsa the celebrations are more low-key, but nonetheless merry. On Hvar the greeting exchanged on New Year's Eve is: "Na dobro Vam došla svarha godišća", which translates roughly as "May the peak of the year be good for you". 

At lunchtime on December 31st 2014 the Udruga Karnevol was in action again, organizing a splendid lunch with mulled wine and excellent live music entertainment. Local hunters provided a wild boar which formed the main part of the meal, followed by homemade seasonal sweets.

The food was devoured by a succession of guests, who certainly did it justice. Only the succulent smell was left to tell the tale of how delicious it had been.

Stipe Božiković, an extremely talented young musician, led the music on the accordion, and the singing proceeded happily well into the afternoon.

Many of the revellers then headed off to the New Year's Eve Mass at 5pm, in preparation for the later round of celebrations culminating at midnight. The normal Hvar greeting on New Year's Day is "Na dobro Vam došlo mlado lito" ("May the young year be good for you", or "May the young year bring you good things"), although "Sretna Nova godina" ("Happy New Year") is also used, especially for outsiders.

The lunch was held with the charitable aim of raising money for Hvar's Red Cross, an organization which quietly does an enormous amount for all the residents on the island. The event was yet another feather in the cap of the Udruga Karnevol.

© Vivian Grisogono 2014

You are here: Home highlights Christmas and New Year run-up in Jelsa

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Exclusive: Draft regulations seen by the Guardian reveal the European commission wants to prohibit the insecticides that cause ‘acute risks to bees’

    The world’s most widely used insecticides would be banned from all fields across Europe under draft regulations from the European commission, seen by the Guardian.

    The documents are the first indication that the powerful commission wants a complete ban and cite “high acute risks to bees”. A ban could be in place this year if the proposals are approved by a majority of EU member states.

    Continue reading...

  • A plan to halve carbon emissions every decade, while green energy continues to double every five years, provides a simple but rigorous roadmap to tackle climate change, scientists say

    A new “carbon law”, modelled on Moore’s law in computing, has been proposed as a roadmap for beating climate change. It sees carbon emissions halving every decade, while green energy continues to double every five years.

    The carbon law’s proponents are senior climate-change scientists and they argue it provides a simple, broad but quantitative plan that could drive governments and businesses to make urgently needed carbon cuts, particularly at a time when global warming is falling off the global political agenda.

    Continue reading...

  • Roll clouds and wave-like asperitas are among the additions to the new digital International Cloud Atlas, that dates back to the 19th century. It features hundreds of images captured by meteorologists and cloud lovers from around the world

    Continue reading...

  • Extent of ice over North pole has fallen to a new wintertime low, for the third year in a row, as climate change drives freakish weather

    The extent of Arctic ice has fallen to a new wintertime low, as climate change drives freakishly high temperatures in the polar regions.

    The ice cap grows during the winter months and usually reaches its maximum in early March. But the 2017 maximum was 14.4m sq km, lower than any year in the 38-year satellite record, according to researchers at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) and Nasa.

    Continue reading...

  • Massive fine reflects change in sentencing as previously low penalties failed to deter water firms from polluting England’s rivers and beaches

    Thames Water has been hit with a record fine of £20.3m after huge leaks of untreated sewage into the Thames and its tributaries and on to land, including the popular Thames path. The prolonged leaks led to serious impacts on residents, farmers, and wildlife, killing birds and fish.

    The fine imposed on Wednesday was for numerous offences in 2013 and 2014 at sewage treatment works at Aylesbury, Didcot, Henley and Little Marlow, and a large sewage pumping station at Littlemore.

    Continue reading...

  • Birdwatchers ‘elated’ after snapping photo of the endangered species in state’s arid interior in discovery that could significantly impact on mining developments

    A night parrot has been photographed in Western Australia, adding another twist to the mysterious history of the species that was presumed extinct until it was rediscovered in Queensland four years ago.

    It is the first verified sighting of the bird in WA for almost 100 years and follows a history of unverified sightings, disbelieved reports and futile ecological surveys that rivals the hunt for the (presumably still) extinct Thylacine in Tasmania.

    Continue reading...

  • Anne says she would farm GM food and GM livestock a ‘bonus’, while Charles says GM crops will cause ‘biggest disaster environmentally of all time’

    Princess Anne has strongly backed genetically modified crops, saying she would grow them on her own land and that GM livestock would be a “bonus”.

    Her stance puts her sharply at odds with her brother Prince Charles, who has long opposed GM food and has said it will cause the “biggest disaster environmentally of all time”.

    Continue reading...

  • In the first in a series, Yale Environment 360 reports from Honduras where Berta Cáceres fought to protect native lands and paid for it with her life – one of hundreds of victims in this disturbing global trend

    They came for her late one evening last March, as Berta Cáceres prepared for bed. A heavy boot broke the back door of the safe house she had just moved into. Her colleague and family friend, Gustavo Castro, heard her shout, “Who’s there?” Then came a series of shots. He survived. But the most famous and fearless social and environmental activist in Honduras died instantly. She was 44 years old. It was a cold-blooded political assassination.

    Berta Cáceres knew she was likely to be killed. Everybody knew. She had told her daughter Laura to prepare for life without her. The citation for her prestigious Goldman Environmental prize, awarded in the US less than a year before, noted the continued death threats, before adding: “Her murder would not surprise her colleagues, who keep a eulogy – but hope to never have to use it.”

    Continue reading...

  • Vibrant vegetation in a Venezuelan lake, Saharan dust in snowy Sierra Nevada, cloud vortices in South Korea, a vast solar farm in China, and a lone ship in the Atlantic are among our satellite images this month

    Every so often, a vibrant green colour infuses the waters of Lake Maracaibo. Floating vegetation – likely duckweed – was swirling in the Venezuelan lake when Nasa’s Aqua satellite flew over in February 2017. Most of the time, Maracaibo’s waters are stratified into layers, with nutrient-rich, cooler, saltier water at the bottom, and a warmer, fresher layer near the surface. But after heavy rains, the layers can mix and make the lake an ideal habitat for plant growth. A narrow strait roughly 6km (4 miles) wide and 40 km (25 miles) long connects the lake to the Gulf of Venezuela and the Caribbean Sea. The influx of saltwater through the strait makes Maracaibo an estuarine lake. This mixing causes the water currents responsible for the concentric swirl pattern, according to Lawrence Kiage, a professor of geoscience at Georgia State University.

    Continue reading...

  • Green groups’ report says move to cleaner energy in China and India is discouraging the building of coal-fired units

    The amount of new coal power being built around the world fell by nearly two-thirds last year, prompting campaigners to claim the polluting fossil fuel was in freefall.

    The dramatic decline in new coal-fired units was overwhelmingly due to policy shifts in China and India and subsequent declining investment prospects, according to a report by Greenpeace, the US-based Sierra Club and research network CoalSwarm.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds