Za križen – Following the Cross

Reason #119: follow the Cross in a traditional Easter procession

Za križen is a procession ritual, part of the Catholic Easter tradition observed in Dalmatian towns and villages.

The start of the procession varies. In Selca, Sumartin and Novo Selo it starts on Friday morning. The three villages start at their own church and walk to the next village and back. Without running into each other.

The Selca procession starts at 6 am.

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It follows the old road to Sumartin

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At the same time, the procession from Sumartin heads to Selca, but via another route, so that the two processions never meet.

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The Selca procession arrives in Sumartin and is met by Roman soldiers who escort us to the church of St. Martin. The march of the soldiers is eerie and impressive.

 

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Photo courtesy of  Žudije Sumartin.

Here’s a tip for those who intend to join Za križen for the first time: try to be at the front of the procession, where all the singing and the decorum is happening. If you hang in the back it can be annoying and the magic is lost, as most people chat and instead of thinking of Christ and His suffering, they’re more interested in “Whose house is that? Check out those curtains!”, “When was the last time he trimmed his olive trees”, and such.

In the evening we gather in Selca again, for another service and procession. The streets of Selca are lit up by torches and people sing hymns all the way. It’s beautiful.

Change of guards at the tomb of Jesus in the church Krista Kralja in Selca.

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In the video you would have heard a loud, rattling noise. That would be these:

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Rachet or škrpajke are carried in the procession (by kids mostly) and at certain points the procession stops, the singing stops and on command all the rachets make noise in unison.

Although many Dalmatian towns and villages observe this tradition, the most famous and reportedly the most impressive Za križen procession is the one on the island of Hvar. It even made the prestigious UNESCO Cultural Heritage listing.

More on the Easter tradition in Selca and Sumartin in this post: Easter ritual of Žudije – Roman soldiers

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

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UPDATE from this year’s festival in Vrlika:

Slobodna dalmacija article with photos

Žudije from Selca with their youngest member Niki :)

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Photos by Loreta Mošić. Thanks!

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