Tuesday, 1 February 2022

How Much for a Cold Drink on Krk Island? Just Give Baba a Kiss

An ancient custom on Krk island involves planting a kiss on a wet rock on the side of the road. Looking into the curious ethnological phenomenon on February 1, 2022

Many holidaymakers have discovered the charms of Baška, a picture-perfect town on Krk island. There’s plenty for this dreamy destination to boast, including a 1800m long pebble beach ideal for those who love to soak up the sun, and adventure trails for visitors who prefer an active vacation.

Visiting Baška wasn’t such a simple feat back in the day, judging by an ethnological phenomenon described by Alan Žic-Teklin of KrkDiscovered. When arriving in Baška for the first time, one was obliged to kiss a wet old woman on the way to town. No, this doesn't sound any more enticing nor any less wrong in Croatian: poljubiti mokru babu.

(Baba stands for old woman, crone or grandma, depending on the context. In this scenario, it falls somewhere between the first two, but we’ll go with the more respectful option to avoid upsetting any ancient spirits. You never know.)

Thankfully, this particular baba was simply a common nickname for stone monoliths scattered over the island. Always located in damp spots near water springs - hence the wet part of the name - the rocks were referred to as babe and the custom dictated to give them a kiss when passing by.

Where did this come from? Legend has it that St Jerome (4th century AD) was visiting the bishop of Krk and got thirsty while traversing the island. He hit a rock with his staff, causing water to spring from stone.

Since one would have to lean close to the rock and press their lips against the surface to get a drink of water, this would have resembled kissing the rock, and so the saying was born.

Legends aside, the local custom of kissing the stone baba has long been a subject of interest of historians and ethnologists. Jelka Vince-Pallua, PhD proposed a theory that the custom originates from ancient fertility cults that were practised before the monoliths, while ethnologist Nikola Bonifačić-Rožin considers that the ‘old women’ stem from an ancient superstition that the rocks will prevent the floods from washing away precious fertile soil.

The best known baba on Krk island used to be located on the side of the road at the locality Žanac near Baška. The ancient rock isn’t there anymore and has been replaced with another one, but to keep up with tradition a pipe has been installed on the location, allowing passersby to get a drink of cold water.

And the new rock that stands in place of the old monolith? It’s part of the Baška Glagolitic Alphabet Trail, a series of 35 stone sculptures displayed on a trail meandering through the Baška Valley, each bearing a different letter of the Glagolitic alphabet.

Glagolitic letters Ž and E are carved into this particular stone, standing for Žanac est! Loosely translated, it means ‘Here is the Žanac spring!’ pointing to the wealth of water resources in the area. As early as the Stone age, people inhabiting Krk island first settled in Baška Valley precisely for its many water springs.

Even though it’s not the original baba, the sculpture allows travellers in passing to respect the ancient custom and give baba a peck on the cheek if they so decide. Don’t find the prospect that enticing? You can simply mark the sculpture on your Glagolitic Trail guide - every monument has a small plaque with raised letters you can copy into the blank pages in the guide. (Copy them all as proof you visited all the locations on the trail, and you get a little gift.)


The letter L, sculpture by Ljubo de Karina / visitbaska.hr

The Glagolitic Trail project was devised by the Sinjali Association for culture, tradition and ecology from Krk. Each sculpture was sponsored by a different town; four were created by the renowned Croatian sculptor Ljubo de Karina, the rest were made by fifteen art academy students from Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and the Czech Republic.

The trail was created to highlight the rich cultural heritage of Krk island and to serve as a reminder of the importance of the Glagolitic alphabet in Croatian history. The Baška tablet in particular - perhaps the most distinguished attraction in Baška, at least where Croatian culture and history are considered.

Discovered in the church of St Lucy in Jurandvor and dating to 1100, the limestone tablet is a legal document bearing an inscription where the Croatian name (hrvatski) is mentioned in writing for the first time in history, in Glagolitic script.


You can learn more about the Baška Glagolitic Trail in this pdf guide, and follow Krk Discovered on Facebook.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute Expanding Scientific Cooperation in Sarajevo (BiH)

July 2, 2021 - Dedication to researching and developing the field of social sciences sees the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute expanding scientific cooperation once again after Željko Holjevac's visit to Sarajevo, in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute, active as always, continues to expand its cooperation on scientifically explain social issues (symbolically noted as 2021 marks 30 years of the Institute).

As reported on their official website, Institute headmaster dr. Željko Holjevac visited Sarajevo, the capital city of the neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, from June 21-23.

The main story of that visit was a signed bilateral cooperation agreement between the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute and the Sarajevo Catholic Faculty. The agreement was signed by Holjevac and Faculty dean dr. Darko Tomašević.

Additionally, Holjevac was at the reception with Vrhbosanski's vice bishop Vinko Puljić.

„They talked about possible shared projects that would be adjusted to the tradition, culture and developing needs of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina“, informed Ivo pilar social research Institute.

Croatian Cultural Society Napredak (progress) also met with Holjevac. Napredak soon celebrates 120 years of work and was founded at the start of the 20th century when the famous Croatian social scientist Pilar was active in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Napredak plans various manifestations for their big anniversary, and dr. Holjevac discussed the possible cooperation in organizing an international scientific symposium regarding the identity of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ivo Pilar Institute working in full speed

This sort of cooperation in regards to researching the Croatian diaspora in the neighboring country where the Croatian historical role and present is significant is nothing new for the Ivo Pilar Social research Institute.

As TCN reported earlier in May, the Institute, along with scientific partners, organized a conference “Identity of Boka Kotorska Croatians“, and the three-day event gathered crucial scientific institutes in Croatia to the town of Tivat in the Bay of Croatian Saints in Montenegro.

Scientists from the Institute were also active this year as they participated at European Conference For Social Work Research (ECSWR), International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF) Conference, and also by presenting a book on Croatian Mountain Rescue Service in Gospić, or by presenting book Cultural Identity of Vukovar – Contribution to Investigating Heritage and Successors“ – to list some of the activities TCN reported on throughout 2021.

As 2021 marks the 30th year anniversary of the Ivo Pilar Institute, apart from the aforementioned actions (to which we can include nurturing relations with scientific colleagues in Slovakia or opening a new research office on Vis Island), several more goals were envisioned by the end of the year: to publish the first edition of critical translation for the book „South Slavic (Yugoslav) Question“ by Ivo Pilar from 1918, and to make and publish Pilar's Kaleidoskop of Croatian society.

With the active academic dynamic demonstrated by the Institute, there is no doubt there is enough quality and capacity to achieve these goals. It is only a matter of time in such a busy and productive schedule.

Learn more about Croatian Diaspora on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Project on Traditional Dry-stone Walling in Croatia and Mediterranean

ZAGREB, 20 June, 2021 - The Croatian part of the project "Dry-stone walls: a mark in landscape or forgotten cultural heritage" will be carried out by artists from Croatia, Ireland and Austria from 23 to 29 June.

The project will explore, review and reinterpret the cultural legacy of building dry-stone walls in the form of contemporary land art installations, the Croatian Society of Fine Artists announced in a statement.

Land art installations will be created in several places along the Croatian Adriatic coast - Kožino near Zadar, Paška Vrata on Pag island, Paklenica National Park and Privlaka.

The project involves artists Mark Cullen from Ireland, Luise Kloos from Austria, Ivan Fijolić, Josip Zanki and Anđela Zanki from Croatia, ethnologists and cultural anthropologists Sara Mikelić and Tomislav Oroz, members of the Dragodid association as well as art, ethnology and anthropology students.

The results of the project will be presented in Pag on 29 June, and the land art installation sites will become part of a land art trail aimed at increasing the visibility of contemporary art practices and raising awareness of the need to safeguard Croatia's traditional cultural heritage.

Dry-stone walling techniques, used in Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland, are included in UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage list.

For more on Made in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Friday, 21 May 2021

Renaissance Festival 2021 in Koprivnica Offers Croatian Traditional Crafts Workshops from August 19 to 22

May 21, 2021 - The Renaissance Festival 2021 to be held from August 19 to 22 in Koprivnica features the revival of various old crafts of Croatia as one of its biggest attractions this year to preserve these traditional practices.

As turistickeprice.hr reports, this year, the Tourist Board of Koprivnica leads in reviving and promoting old crafts of Croatia to tourists. As the generation who knows and carries these rare skills and practices gets older, most Croatian traditional crafts become less and less practiced and are now on the brink of completely disappearing. Due to this, the organizers of the festival decided to launch free training for those who are interested, especially to the young people, who they think will play a big role in preserving and saving these almost extinct practices. The available traditional workshops that will be offered are: wheelwrighting, coopering, basket making, gold washing, and thatching (straw-roofing). The workshops will consist mostly of hands-on practices and basic theoretical knowledge. Furthermore, the last masters of these crafts in Northern Croatia will be spearheading the transfer of these traditions to the new generation.

After the training, the Tourist Board of Koprivnica and Central Podravina will give the participants a chance to be involved in future events that preserve cultural heritage and history and they will also be able to offer their own arrangements in cooperation with travel agencies. The workshops have been announced to take place in June, in accordance with the relaxation of epidemiological measures, and will last from 3 to 5 days depending on the type of workshop. For those who are interested in learning the old crafts and participating in the workshops, you may contact the Tourist Board of Koprivnica.

Other fun things to expect at the Renaissance Festival 2021

The Renaissance Festival will be held on the remains of Koprivnica's city walls and is also featured as one of the Best Tourist Events in Croatia 2019/2020. To bring you back to the long-gone times of the Middle Ages, the festival offers medieval music and entertainers, knightly tournaments and horse fights, fencing, the largest fair of old crafts, and the largest and most unique wooden maze. It offers, as well, a unique gastronomic experience with their variety of medieval beers made of nettle, mead, capon, and pheasant or boar. The festival is also expected to have over 1,300 costumed participants from 15 European countries!  

The use of plastic has been completely banned since several years ago, so expect your meals to be traditionally prepared - on the spot and in clay or wooden pots. The meals will showcase medieval recipes and it will also highlight the use of nettles (kopriva) - a plant that dominantly grows in this region and to which Koprivnica owes its name.

It will be a unique and authentic experience of the Middle Ages. Through interacting with historical figures such as brave knights, noble ladies, old crafts, beggars, lepers, court jesters, executioners and others - each visitor will be given a treat of a truly unique, bewitching, and fun return to history!

For more news about events in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Monday, 21 December 2020

Richness of Traditional Croatian Christmas Songs In One Spotify Playlist

December 21, 2020 – Among many other things, Croatia can also be proud of its Christmas music tradition. For the perfect Christmas atmosphere, Croatian musician and guitarist Mihael Majetić singled out 54 of the best traditional Croatian Christmas songs in one Spotify playlist.

Traditional Croatian Christmas songs are considered the most numerous in the world, but it isn't easy to count them because they are mostly preserved by word of mouth. They are a precious and favorite part of the rich Croatian Christmas tradition, but also the Croatian cultural identity, and they belong to the most diverse and beautiful in the world.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many musical events had to be postponed this year, including many Christmas concerts showing their splendor every year. Choral church singing is also limited. However, despite the many negativities that 2020 brought to the Croatian and world music scene, some positive changes have taken place.

One of them is, of course, the arrival of the streaming service Spotify on the Croatian market, which allows Croatians to stream music without interruption, while Croatian musicians have another platform on which their music can be available. Therefore, this year, instead of experiencing live concerts, Croatians can stream music via Spotify. Due to this year's overall situation, traditional Croatian Christmas songs can be listened to exclusively in the pleasant home environment, but this in no way diminishes their beauty.

The incredible repertoire of traditional (but also popular) Croatian Christmas songs is now even more accessible. And to separate them all from the sea of different Christmas songs and gather them in one place, Croatian musician and guitarist with a London address, Mihael Majetić, compiled a playlist of 54 creative and original arrangements of traditional Croatian Christmas songs on Spotify.

A native of the Slavonian city of Valpovo, Mihael attended the Elly Bašić High School of Music in Zagreb and then continued his education at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London. He graduated last year and currently lives in London.

"The main guiding thought when choosing the songs was the quality of the arrangement and performance. The playlist includes exclusively Croatian traditional songs, but performed in different styles. So, in addition to the classics, you can also hear jazz, salsa, R'n'B, klapa, and tamburitza players. I do not claim that the list is final. I may even adjust it. And I will certainly be grateful if someone contacts me with suggestions that I may have missed," says Mihael, whose interest in the work of other musicians led him to listen to Croatian Christmas albums and thus making this playlist. In addition to performing and teaching guitar, he is also involved in arranging music.

The rich playlist includes some of the most famous names from the Croatian music scene, such as the recently deceased Krunoslav Kićo Slabinac, also one of the first Croatian musicians to record a Christmas album back in 1982. Although he was celebrated for his "bećarac "and rock songs, his album "Christmas with Kićo" became the best-selling Christmas album in the region of all time, with more than half a million copies sold. Out of the 11 Christmas songs from the album, two found their place on this playlist – "U to vrijeme godišta" ("At that time of year") and "Narodi nam se (kralj nebeski)" ("The king of heaven was born"). By the way, these are two very old archaic Croatian songs, and Kićo's versions are adorned with the inevitable overtones of tamburitza in the background.

The song "U to vrijeme godišta", or the old Chakavian form "U se vrime godišča" has its origin in the Latin tune "In hoc ani circulo" from the repertoire of St. Martial in the 11th century in the French city of Limoges. This tune spread from Italy to the Croatian south and from the Czech Republic to the Croatian north. Due to its popularity, it was given an honorary performance before the Christmas Gospel during Holy Mass.

"U to vrijeme godišta", otherwise the most widespread song in all three Croatian dialects (Chakavian, Kajkavian, and Shtokavian), according to musicologist Miha Demović, has a Glagolitic inscription, and the oldest dates from the 14th century. Apart from Kićo's songs, this playlist includes performances by the group Cubismo and composer Igor Kuljerić, conductor Tonči Bilić, and the Croatian Radio and Television Choir. Both versions of the song, Shtokavian and Chakavian, can be found on the playlist performed by the Mostar Cathedral Choir together with the Mostar Symphony Orchestra and composer Nikica Kalogjer, and singer Josipa Lisac and the Ivan Goran Kovačić Choir.

Apart from "U to vrijeme godišta," the song "Narodi nam se" is one of the oldest traditional Croatian Christmas songs. As reported by the Hrvatska katolička mreža (Croatian Catholic Network), and explained by Tihomir Prša, professor of church music at the Faculty of Teacher Education, University of Zagreb, this song dates back to the 13th century. Namely, Christ's name "young king" from the song reminds of the time of Arpadović in Croatia when the Hungarian kings wanted to crown their firstborn king as soon as possible. The expression "young year" reminds of the time when the new year began in Croatia on Christmas, and it was not after the 13th century. All worship services and all Croatian Christmas albums conclude with it.

The already mentioned performers also found a place on this playlist with the performances of the song "Narodi nam se se", and the performance of the Croatian singer Marija Husar from her album "Plesni Božić "("Dance Christmas") from 2009 is lovely.

The song "Kyrie eleison" which translated from Greek means "Lord, have mercy", is also one of the most famous Croatian Christmas songs, despite the Greek title and parts of the song in Greek. According to the first manuscript, it originates from the 19th century in Međimurje, and professor Prša reveals that the song was written by the Kolaj family. The author of the word was organist Janko Kolaj from Kotoriba. His son Ambrozius wrote down the words of a song from 1835.

Of the other traditional Croatian Christmas songs, the most famous are "Radujte se narodi" (Rejoice, people), "Veselje ti navješćujem" (I announce joy to you), "Svim na Zemlji" (To all on Earth), "Djetešce nam se rodilo" (A child was born), "Oj pastiri, čudo novo" (Oh shepherd, a new miracle). The only foreign song that is sung during the Christmas Mass in Croatia is "Silent Night". Christmas songs have a special meaning for Croats because they express their faith and find haven in them.

In addition to the already mentioned performers, the playlist includes performances by singer Marko Tolja, singer Mia Dimšić, composer Igor Geržina, pianist Matija Dedić, Jazz Orchestra of the Croatian Radio and Television (Big Band), music duo Marko & Laci featuring Zita and Ivana, composer Anđelko Igrec, the only organ duo in Croatia – Quattro Obbligato, and Klapa Luka Ploče.

To follow Mihael Majetić, visit his profiles on Spotify, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as his website.

To read more news about Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

10 Croatian Traditions & Cultures in Unusual International Locations

August 7, 2019 - As the Samoan klapa sensations continue their tour of Croatia, are there any other examples of Croatian traditions and culture in unusual places? Oh yes... 

TCN appeared in the Samoa Observer this week, the first time we have written for a publication in the Pacific. The topic, of course, was the wonderful Klapa Samoana, the Samoan Dalmatian klapa group who have taken Croatia to their hearts and won many Croatian admirers in the process, both inside Croatia and the diaspora. 


I caught up with Christian from Klapa Samoana after a wonderful performance on top of the island of Hvar at Hvarcienda. It was a really interesting interview covering a number of issues, including plans to build a Polynesian village in Croatia - you can check out the whole interview in the video below.

Klapa Samoana got me thinking though. The idea of a Samoan group singing Dalmatian klapa was very unusual - were there any other Croatian traditions and cultures which were equally unusual happening in unlikely parts of the planet?

It turns out that there are... Many thanks to the many of you who answered my call for suggestions on my Facebook page yesterday. Here are my top 10:

1. The Sinj Alka knights tournament, African-style

You can take Croatians out of their country but they will find a way to continue with their traditions no matter where they are. Just as we found out the winner of this year's “original” Alka, a very interesting version of this tournament took place in 2015 in a small town of Lephalale in South Africa by the border with Botswana thanks to the idea and enthusiasm of Josko Ugrin from Zrnovnica. Read the full TCN report from 4 years ago.

It doesn't quite have the ceremony, uniforms and groomed horses of the original Alka, but I really like their improvised style. 

2. Dalmatian klapa, Samoan-style

We have written a lot about the boys from Samoa recently, so no need to repeat. Enjoy instead the video which made them famous, as they wished Croatia's World Cup heroes good look for last year's final. And keep up with the latest via the Klapa Samoana Facebook page. Keep up the good work!

3. Dalmatian villages, Texan-style

Where else would you build a Dalmatian village if not in Texas? Developer Jeff Blackard built Adriatica, a Croatian-inspired village in McKinney, Texas. He explains the project in this interview with TIME.

4. Croatian folklore, Milwaukee-style

(with thanks to Ivica Profaca)

"The Milwaukee Croatian Tamburitzans perpetuate and promote the music, dance, and culture of the Croatian people, by the use of the tamburitza, which is the national folk instrument of our Croatian heritage." Learn more from the official website.

5. Croatian opera, Japanese-style

(with thanks to Dear Leader Joe)

"U BOJ! is a very popular song in the Japanese glee choir. It is from the opera "Nikola Subic Zrinski" by Ivan Zajc. 

After the end of World War I, a Croatian mariner's ship sunk in Japan. While they repaired their ship, "U Boj" became a very popular glee song in Japan. This movie was played by "Funken glee club" in Japan at "Funken glee club 2nd concert on July 9, 2006. Almost all "Funken glee club" members live in Toyohashi city. Toyohashi city is near Toyota city which is famous for car production."

6. British Royal Wedding and Coronation celebrations, Croatian wine-style

Many people may be discovering Croatian wine only recently, but the British Royal Family has been enjoying its quality for years, and one winery in particular. Some 11,000 bottles of Ilocki Podrum Traminac was served at Queen Elizabeth's Coronation in 1953. And the Royal love affair did not stop there, as Croatian Ilok goodness was served at the weddings of both William and Kate, and Harry and Meghan. Learn more in the video above.  

7. Indian churches, Dubrovnik-style in Goa


(with thanks to Miso Mihocevic - photo credit www.goanchurches.info)

"Originally the St. Blaise Church, Sao Bras was a small Chapel built in 1541 by Croatian sailors and traders settled in this village. It was elevated to a Parish Church in 1563. Prof Z Matisic, a Croatian scholar, came across some historical records in her country about her city, Dubrovnic’s links with Goa. She came to Sao Bras and standing before the church exclaimed: ”This is a replica of the one in Dubrovnic, dedicated to St.Blaise, the patron of our City!”. To revive the four century old ties, a 15 – member parliamentary delegation of the Republic of Croatia visited St. Blaise Church, Sao Bras on April 1, 1999. The belfry of Sao Bras church has 2 bells, the bigger one being from the ruined church of Santa Luzia in Daujim. The present parish comprises the villages of Gandaulim and Daujim (part) in Tiswaddi and the island of Kumbharjua." Read more.

8. Commemorating the Croatian war sacrifice, the French way

(with thanks to Dear Leader Joe) 

September 17 is a day when Croatia is remembered in Villefranche de Rouergue in France. On this day in 1943, Croatian and Bosnian soldiers rose up in rebellion against the Nazi regime. You can read about the history here. Their sacrifice is remembered each year in Villefranche de Rouergue at the Avenue des Croates. 

9. Writing the tune for the German National Anthem, Croatian-style


The next time you hear the German National Anthem, have a little thought for Croatian folk music which is where young Haydn got his inspiration. Judge for yourself in the tune above. 

Franjo Kuhac was a "researcher who first propounded the view that Haydn's music abounds in Croatian folk tunes was the Croatian ethnologist Franjo Kuhač, who gathered a great number of Croatian tunes in his fieldwork. Kuhač's views, published in Croatian in his Josip Haydn i hrvatske narodne popievke (Zagreb, 1880) were made better known in English speaking countries by the musicologist Henry Hadow, in his book A Croatian Composer (1897) and in various editions of the prestigious Grove Dictionary)." Learn more.

10. Writing the hits for Frank Sinatra, Croatian-style

(with thanks to Dear Leader Joe)

Strangers in the Night might have been a massive hit for Frank Sinatra, but he has a Croat to thank, for it was written by Ivo Robic and first performed in Split. 

"This song was originally written by Ivo Robic for a music festival in Split, Croatia; Robic later recorded versions of it in Croatian ("Stranci u Noci") and in German ("Fremde in der Nacht"). English lyrics about love at first sight were written by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder." Learn more.

Do you know of an unusual Croatian tradition, culture or fact which might be interesting to cover? Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.