Diocletian: “Come back to Rome, are you crazy?!”

Reason #135: living on Brač makes you feel like a Roman emperor

The legend has it that after Diocletian retired from being a very successful Roman emperor and moved into his palace in Split, Rome was in trouble and so they asked him to come back and run the place again. To this Diocletian supposedly told them: “If you could see the raštika* growing in my Palace garden, you wouldn’t be asking me this.”

That pretty much sums up how I feel when someone calls to ask when I’m coming back to Zagreb. Without the part where anyone there needs me to run the place, though :D

The view of raštika from my Palace in Selca:

IMG-20140513-02382
As mentioned before, the credit for anything growing in our garden goes to my amazing Aunt Nada.

*raštika is collard greens in English. More on this yummy plant in this post: Planting your own multi-vitamin (raštika).

Saint John Paul II in Selca

Reason 117: one of the first statues of saint John Paul II

This morning, Pope Francis canonized Popes John XXIII and John Paul II.

papa2
Artist: Kuzma. Kovačić; photo courtesy of Tourist Board Selca, by Daniel Troha Photography

John Paul II was revered by Croatians. The people of Selca built a statue of him back in 1996, out of gratitude for his support during Croatia’s bid for independence.

And today they celebrated his canonization.

papa3

papa4
Photos courtesy of selca.hr

Easter ritual of Žudije – Roman soldiers

Reason #110: attend a very special ritual on Easter Saturday to see Roman soldiers fall at the tomb of Jesus


To skip to the highlight of the ritual, go to 1:50

Easter is an intriguing holiday as it is, but in these here parts they add even more excitement to the festivities with  Žudije – 13 men dressed as Roman soldiers. Both Selca and Sumartin have their Žudije organizations. In some Dalmatian villages and towns this tradition has been observed since before WWII.

selca.sol Žudije from Selca, selački soldati župe Gospe Karmelske (Photo selca.hr)

zudije_rogotin2010413 Žudije from Sumartin, sumartinski žudije župe sv. Martina (Photo selca.hr)

Žudije take part in ceremonies starting with Easter Thursday. The highlight is the reenactment of the moment Roman soldiers realized Christ was resurrected. At that moment the soldiers first fall to the ground then flee the tomb as angels appear. Although the basic premise is the same, the beauty of the tradition is that each Žudije club has their own performance style and costumes. All the Žudije organizations gather each year on Easter Monday to show off their styles and compete for the title of the best Žudije of Croatia.

zudije_rogotin8010413 Last year’s Žudije festival in Rogotin. (Photo: slobodnadalmacija.hr)

Good luck to our Žudije at tomorrow’s festival in Vrlika!

More info (in Croatian) and photos: Žudije on Wikipedia , Slobodna Dalmacija article, Tourist Board Selca photos and (in English): Žudije of Vid

——-

UPDATE from this year’s festival in Vrlika:

Slobodna dalmacija article with photos

Žudije from Selca with their youngest member Niki :)

zudije_vrlika1 zudije_vrlika2
Photos by Loreta Mošić. Thanks!

More on the Easter tradition in Selca and Sumartin in this post: Za križen – Following the Cross

WWII Partisans remembered

Reason #105: the Selca elementary school is dedicated to the fallen Partisans

Elementary school in Selca was built in 1982. and dedicated to the local men and women who were killed in World War II on the side of the Partisans – National Liberation Army.

The plaque and stone relief inside the school:

IMG-20140411-01524
“Besmrtni kao ovaj dragi kamen. Uspravni jarbol u plovidbi vijeka. Vi ste ovih zora svjetlo i znamen.”

IMG-20140411-01523
“Spomen školu podiže narod ovog kraja da bi svjedočila pokoljenjima kako se rađala sloboda ove zemlje. 

My grandfather’s name on the commemorative plaque – Vjeko Štambuk (Miloša). He died in 1945. Just days before the war ended.

IMG-20140411-01525

Scarcity and Lent

Reason #88: a sense of scarcity

We’re in the middle of Lent right now and that means that many Christians are using this time to give up something and reflect on their relationship with God, with themselves, with material possessions, addictions, and much more.

Living on a rock where resources can be scarce and historically people have had very tough lives, it makes you think of the act of abstaining in a different way.

For a lot of people Lent is about removing excess from one’s life and making a personal sacrifice. But I’m thinking, what is the point of doing that in a place that has been in constant state of scarcity since its first inhabitants, all the way up to recent modern times?

What would my grandma, and even my mom, have abstained from for 40 days? Not cake or meat, that’s for sure. They were hard-working, poor and hungry for at least half of their lives. If they finally had a bit of excess later in life, shouldn’t they enjoy it?

And even though most people don’t go hungry on Brač these days, and a few are even quite affluent, the general sense of scarcity is still present. Call it gene memory or culture or mentality, it’s there somehow.

I have no point here. Just something to think about.

 

 

Bunja – Stone huts

Reason #71: stone huts to hide from rain when you’re in the field

Shepards homes-Bunja
Photo above by Selca. Thanks, Malcom!

If you look carefully in the fields, vineyards and olive groves you’ll still find plenty of these on Brač. Bunja is a hut created by piling the rocks found in the field that had to be cleared in order to get to the soil. You have to remember, soil is hard to find on Brač, and rocks are ev-ry-where.

IMG-20140310-01209

If Peter Jackson ever runs out of locations in New Zealand…

IMG-20140310-01211

They were built by farmers and shepherds as shelter from the elements.

IMG_4261

Nowadays people don’t use them as they don’t spend all day in the fields anymore. But I think they offer a great spot to come to, relax and contemplate the past; times when life was much simpler, definitely harder, but also healthier, in some ways.

Hercules

Reason #57: the Greek god Hercules is part of Brač history

nasl-herkules
Photo source: Supetar Tourist Board

In Ancient times inhabitants of Brač worshiped Greek and Roman gods. Romans used the beautiful white stone from Brač to build their palaces (including the Deocletian’s palace in Split).

The stonemasons and quarry workers worshiped Hercules as their God of choice, their Main Man. It was a total bromance. Hercules was cool; strong, a bit wild, but chose the path of good, hardworking… just what you want in a god, right?

So, they carved him out. In stone, obviously.

There are three stone reliefs of Hercules on Brač. In the old quarry of Rasohe, near Splitska, you can see a relief of Hercules still in the rock (the photo above). Artistically speaking it’s not a very sophisticated rendition (probably done by an apprentice) but it’s really cool to see.  The other two can be seen in the Škrip museum (Muzej otoka Brača).

reljef-s-prikazom-herkula
One of the Hercules reliefs at the museum in Škrip

The Rasohe quarry is worth seeing, in my opinion. It’s a nice 2km hike that starts in Splitska and ends in the quarry. More info here.

And now on a less serious note, here’s a little taste of Hercules, Hollywood style: