Saturday, 3 April 2021

Highlights of the Week: 5 Big Events in Croatia from March 29 to April 4, 2021

April 4, 2021 - From new epidemiological measures imposed due to the increase in COVID-19 infections to the arrival of Ryanair, here are TCN's five highlights of the week, recapping the big events in Croatia from March 29 to April 4, 2021.

At the end of March, the fight against the pandemic was in its final stages, taking into account the government's efforts to promote the return of the tourist season, the reopening of business in the country, and the announcement of mass vaccinations in Zagreb after Easter. Despite this, the novel coronavirus has once again warned that its presence continues to threaten the population, and this has since manifested in the increase in cases across the country. On the other hand, sporting and cultural events have also stood out as we entered a new month this week.

Croatia U-21 reaches the EURO Tournament Quarterfinals

The eyes were not only all firmly on the senior team, who, after starting the qualifying process with an away loss against Slovenia, got back on track with six points against Cyprus and Malta in Rijeka. Luka Modric also became the most capped player in the history of the Croatian National Team.

Some good news also came for those who follow the younger generations, as the U-21 team won their ticket to the quarter-finals of the EURO tournament in a dramatic fashion. Those led by Igor Biscan failed to win the match, but a Bradaric goal in injury time allowed Croatia to climb to second place, thanks to the other teams' results and goal difference. 

Now, the little Vatreni will have to face Spain on May 31.

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Koper, Slovenia (Credit: PIXSELL)

Ryanair announces flights to Croatia

After several years in which the Zagreb International Airport was in deficit in terms of both airlines and low-cost flights, it finally reached an agreement with the well-known Irish low-cost company Ryanair. This agreement was announced through a virtual press conference, in which it was detailed that the capital of Croatia will now be connected to European cities such as Paris, Brussels, Dortmund, Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, Memmingen, Milan, Rome, Podgorica, Oslo, Gothenburg, and London.

Zagreb wasn't the only city to rejoice with this news, as the airline also confirmed 17 new flights to Zadar International Airport in a separate conference, and passengers will be able to choose from a wide variety of European destinations from July 2021. While many still believe this news might affect the future of Croatia Airlines, others including the company itself assure that the regional base establishment of the popular airline in Zagreb will not only create more jobs but also transform the capital's tourism.

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Credits: Pixabay

The Prime Minister reveals the National Recovery Plan

After a cabinet meeting which was held last Thursday, PM Andrej Plenkovic announced through a press conference all the details surrounding the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, which aims to reform and transform the country in regard to several different issues such as healthcare, employment, education, science and research, infrastructure, and more. The estimated investment would stand at 18 million kuna and the objective is to carry out these reforms within five years, more precisely between 2021 and 2026.

Plenkovic added that the plan consists of modernising scientific research and educational systems, increasing the quality of the healthcare and pension systems, improving employability through a more efficient programme, and carrying out the reconstruction and structural renovation of numerous homes and buildings in the country, in such a way that they are not only better prepared in case of natural disasters, but that they're also more adapted to the most recent demands for energy efficiency.

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Zagreb (Credits: PIXSELL)

The traditional Za Krizen Procession was held on Jelsa

Despite the reduced capacity of followers and pilgrims this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the island of Hvar celebrated its 2021 edition of its traditional Za Krizen (Behind the Cross) procession in the town of Jelsa, inscribed as intangible UNESCO heritage since 2009. TCN covered an event that usually gathers thousands of people around the island as they follow the carriers, but this year had to settle with only the participants and few witnesses in the streets.

The overnight processions were held in the towns of Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj, and Vrboska. The event started simultaneously in the six towns at 22:00 pm as the habitants have done for centuries, and ended at the main square.

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Jelsa (Credit: PIXSELL)

The measures against COVID-19 are tightened due to the large increase in cases

A month ago, all the cafes, bars, and restaurants in the country were reopened, after many weeks without serving their loyal customers, as an extreme measure to combat the virus. The condition was to serve only outdoors on the terraces and with a limited capacity. The streets were filled with life and joy again. However, one month later, the numbers have dramatically increased and although it is unlikely that a complete lockdown will be imposed again, the government has announced that new measures will take place in order to reduce the infections and it will last until 15 April, before being reviewed again.

In Split-Dalmatia County, for instance, which has seen a big increase in new infections, the mandatory wearing of face masks at outdoor venues with an increased flow of people will be introduced, as will a ban on the sale of alcohol from 8 pm to 6 am. The work of cafes will be restricted until 8 pm, and it will be possible to serve food and drinks only in the open. Foreign language schools will switch to online classes again.

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Split (Credit: PIXSELL)

From Monday to Sunday, we list five events featured on the front pages of Croatia's news portals.

To follow all news from Croatia, subscribe to our newsletter.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Za Krizen 2021 Tonight on Hvar: Live Streaming from Jelsa

April 1, 2021 - 500 years of tradition will continue on Hvar tonight, as the UNESCO Za Krizen 2021 procession in 6 villages will take place, albeit in a much-reduced capacity. Where to watch it live from Jelsa. 

It is the most magical night of the year in Jelsa.

And last year, it was definitely the most surreal night of my 15 years in Jelsa, as I was the only person on the main square as the Za Krizen (Behind the Cross) procession, which has been inscribed as intangible UNESCO heritage since 2009, took place once more against a backdrop of huge national controversy. From memory, it was the only public event which took place in Croatia in the whole of April, 2020, due to the lockdown, requiring the intervention of both the Prime Minister and Health Minister (a Jelsa native) to allow it to proceed in much reduced circustances. 

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Where normally there are thousands of pilgrims joining the six overnight processions in Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj and Vrboska, as you can see from the webcam above, there was just one fat Irishman as the procession started. Due to the lockdown, no other media could come to the island, and TCN was just one of two media who happened to be living in Jelsa and so able to attend. 

Due to my privileged position, and knowing how important the precession is to the soul of each Jelsa native, I stayed up through the night and filmed all six, culminating in the Jelsa procession returning to the main square about 06:15 the next morning. My wife Miranda did an excellent job editing the video above. 

There was understandable opposition to the procession all over Croatia. Everything else had been banned in the country, and yet this procession was allowed to go ahead. There was some selective photography in the media the following day, trying to prove mass violations of the measures in place at the time. Given my unique perspective on the night, as well as the outstanding work of the Hvar police, the actual situation could not have been further from the truth. It was a pleasure to be able to put the record straight in Jelsa Za Krizen, Croatia Not Wuhan & Cabin Fever Perspectives. A chance to give something back to that lovely little town which gave me so much in my 13 years there.

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The six processions will start simultaneously at 22:00, as they have done for centuries. The Jelsa cross-bearer, Dario Belic, will be carrying the cross for the second time, which has only happened a few times in the 500 years of the procession's history. It is considered a high honour to carry the cross on the 22km pilgrimage, and the local custom is to sign up a child at birth to carry the cross. The names of future cross bearers have been allocated up to 2051. Dario was put down for 2021 way back in 1986. However, his first experience carrying the cross came 20 years ago after the untimely death of a relative who was supposed to carry that year. Dario stepped in back then, but tonight is about fulfilling the commitment made at birth. 

And, as last year, while numbers will be severely restricted, you will be able to follow events live in Jelsa, both from the church and the main square. Last year, there were more than 10,000 people all over the world tuning in. I was struck by the passion of Croatians all over the world last year, as I posted live video footage through the night as each procession entered Jelsa. An experience I had almost to myself all night, and one I will never forget. 

You can find the two live webcams on the Zupa Jelsa website.

What's it like to carry the cross? A few years ago, Hvar TV did this fabulous feature story behind the scenes with a cross-bearer from Pitve. Highly recommended, and with English subtitles. 

You can learn more about the island in our Hvar in a Page guide.

 

 

Friday, 24 April 2020

Webcam Stats: Most Attended, Socially Distanced Za Krizen Ever?

April 24, 2020 - The final word on Za Krizen 2020, as the webcam stats show how truly international this year's attendance was - the most popular, most socially distanced Za Krizen of all time?

The final chapter in TCN's extensive coverage of the 2020 Za Krizen religious procession on Hvar - the attendance report, with some clues from the webcam stats of two cameras installed for the procession. 

In 1943, this 500-year-old UNESCO procession almost did not take place due to the wartime occupation of the Italian fascists. In 1944, it took place in a refugee camp in the Sinai Desert in Egypt. The biggest threat to the continuity of a procession which is almost part of the genetic makeup of the people of Hvar came in 2020, however - coronavirus. 

As already covered on TCN (check out the Za Krizen reports here), permission for the procession to go ahead was given for just 15 people per procession, a far cry from the hundreds if not thousands who traditionally follow each of the six Maundy Thursday processions through the night in Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj and Vrboska. 

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And the Hvar police made sure that the procession would go ahead with strict controls. As one of the few people fortunate enough to get a permit to cover the event, I tried to capture as much of the evening as possible for others - and my eye-witness account was very different to second-hand reports that appeared elsewhere in the media - you can learn more in Za Krizen 2020, Croatia Not Wuhan & Cabin Fever Perspectives

It was a very strange night, but help was at hand for those who could not attend this year's procession, in the shape of a charismatic Hvar postman and an Austrian sitting at home in Graz. 

TCN regulars will be familiar with Tomislav Zupan, my favourite postman on Hvar, who gave a legendary insight into life as a postman on a Dalmatian island a few years ago. It remains my favourite interview on TCN.

Tomi is blessed with the best terrace in the world to watch events on the main square in Jelsa, and he was very kind to keep the beers cold for the 2Cellos concert a few years ago. No doubt over a cold one, he came up with the idea to put some webcams in on his terrace and in the main Jelsa church for Za Krizen, together with his lifelong friend Jean-Pierre from Austria, who has visited Jelsa every year since 1974 - even during the war - and already operates two webcams in Jelsa.  

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And so it was that at 22:03, the time that Za Krizen was about to start, Tomi and Jean-Pierre's webcam recorded the rather unusual sight of a totally empty main square. 

Except for me. 

So how many people tuned in to Za Krizen 2020? It was announced through various channels, and TCN FB carried it live with a pinned post. The answer is that we don't quite know the full story, but what we can report from the webcam stats from the church as the procession was starting was that there were 7,356 people watching when the server crashed. 

To put that number in context, there are normally between 1,000 and 3,000 people taking part in the Jelsa procession. 

But in the weird year of 2020, with only 15 participants and 4 journalists recording the event, it was attended virtually by a record number of people. 

And the webcam stats show us just how international this year's event was. 

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Here are some stats from the church on the Thursday night from a 3-minute period. 

Quite an international gathering, isn't it?

I asked our webcam heroes if they had a more detailed breakdown of the number in Croatia to give us an idea perhaps how many people from Jelsa had stayed home and were watching via webcam. The breakdown was interesting. 

Zagreb - 2,430

Split - 786

Jelsa - 697

Zadar - 235

Sibenik - 232

Hvar - 124

Rijeka - 123

Other - 284

It should be remembered that these stats were for a 3-minute period in the church on Thursday night. 

By Friday morning, the main square webcam had recorded more than 46,000 visits. 

And here, if you missed it, was the dramatic ending. 

Tomi, Jean-Pierre, MANY thanks for your great efforts. It meant a lot for so many people all over the world, and you truly delivered the most attended, most socially distanced Za Krizen procession in its 500-year history. 

To learn more about Za Krizen, check out the dedicated TCN section dating all the way back to 2011.  

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Za Križen 2020 kako ga je vidio križonoša iz Vrbnja Matteo Bratanić

22. travanj, 2020 - 500 godina stara procesija Za Križen na Hvaru, koju je zaštitio i UNESCO, jedan je od rijetkih događaja koji su se ovoga mjeseca održali u Hrvatskoj. Pročitajte intervju s križonošom iz Vrbnja, Matteom Bratanićem i zavirite iza kulisa ovog događaja.

1943. godine talijanski fašisti ograničili su procesiju na samo 12 osoba po mjestu, a 1944. ona je održana u izbjegličkom kampu u pustinji Sinai u Egiptu. Procesija Za Križen koja se održava na Hvaru od 1510. godine 2009. je godine uvrštena na popis nematerijalne baštine UNESCO-a sastoji se od šest istovremenih procesija iz Jelse, Pitvi, Vrisnika, Vrbnika, Svirča, Vrbnja i Vrboske koje prate bosonogog križonošu dok kroz noć hoda preko 25 kilometara na hodošašću u molitvi. I dok je većina drugih događanja u Hrvatskoj ovoga mjeseca otkazana, Za Križen je kontroverznom odlukom dopušteno da se održi, iako u ograničenim okolnostima. Dok svake godine stotine ili čak tisuće ljudi sudjeluju u procesijama, Za Križen 2020 je bila ograničena na samo 15 osoba po procesiji.

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TCN je bio jedan od rijetkih svjedoka procesije Za Križen 2020. Detaljan opis događanja možete pročitati u našem članku  an see our detailed account in Jelsa Za Križen, Hrvatska nije Wuhan, i osjećaj kabinske groznice.

Pa, kako je bilo nositi križ tijekom najčudnije godine procesije Za Križen, i kako je to sve izgledalo iza kulisa? Zahvalan sam križonoši iz Vrbnja Matteu Brataniću na ovom fascinantnom i detaljnom izvještaju o procesiji, pripremama za nju i onome što je nakon nje slijedilo, iz perspektive jednoga od šest muškaraca koji su nosili križ. 

Za početak nam recite, kada ste se prijavili  da budete križonoša za Vrbanj? Prije koliko vremena?

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Zapravo, nisam se sam prijavio da budem križonoša. To je učinio moj pokojni djed 2000. godine, kada je moj stric, dr. Andre Bratanić nosio križ. Tada sam imao 14 mjeseci. Nažalost, moj djed koji me prijavio preminuo je u rujnu prošle godine, tako da nije dobio prigodu vidjeti kako sam mu ispunio želju.

Kako bi pripreme za procesiju izgledale normalne godine?

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Čak su i ove godine pripreme normalno počele. Ljudi koji su bili uključeni u organizaciju procesije dolazili su u našu kuću na večere, „Kantaduri“ su uvježbavali pjesmu „Gospin Plac“ i zajedno smo vježbali pjesme koje se pjevaju kad se stiže u različita mjesta. Naravno, potrebno je pripremiti se i kroz crkvu, odlaskom na misu svake nedjelje, kroz ispovijed na početku Korizme i pomalo se duhovno pripremati za ono što dolazi.

Kako se mentalno i fizički pripremiti za takvo nešto?

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Mentalno, morate si utuviti u glavu da to nije nešto nemoguće. Mnogi su prehodali 25 km noseći križ težak 8 kg i ti ćeš biti jedan od njih. Nema potrebe za panikom. Da budem iskren, kad smo iz Vrbnja krenuli na procesiju, sve o čemu sam mogao misliti bilo je "O Bože, u što sam se uvalio, kako ću ovo izdržati“ itd. Ali svećenik koji je donedavno bio u Vrbnju, don Branimir, rekao je vrlo istinitu stvar s kojom se u potpunosti slažem: „Od Vrbnja do Vrboske: ti nosiš križ. Od Vrboske nadalje križ nosi tebe“. Kad uspijete pronaći ugodan položaj za nošenje, postane stvarno lako. Fizički, moraš biti pripremljen nositi križ težak 8 kg, pa je bitno imati snage u gornjem dijelu tijela. Zbog pandemije nije bilo mnogo toga za raditi, pa bih se zaključao u svoju sobu i radio sklekove i trbušnjake, a uz to sam pomagao ocu na polju, u što je uključeno mnogo dizanja teških predmeta. Uz to sam zaista aktivan. U Kanadi igram nogomet i redovito idem u teretanu, pa nisam bio zabrinut. Izdržljivost je ključ da biste mogli izdržati svih 25 kilometara. Svi znamo da nije cijeli put po ravnome – dio prema Pitvama je najteži jer je uzbrdo cijelim putem. Zahvaljujući igranju nogometa i čestim odlascima na planinarenje i hodanje, bio sam spreman i zaista sam se dobro osjećao. Kada smo se ujutro vratili u Vrbanj, bio sam spreman za odraditi još 25 kilometara.

Ovo nije bila normalna godina. Kada ste shvatili da Za Križen 2020 neće biti kao prethodnih godina, ako se uopće bude održala?

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1943., 1944. i 2020. bit će godine kojih će se ljudi ponajviše sjećati. Meni je postalo jasno da će ova godina biti posebna kada je hrvatska Vlada uvela restrikcije (zatvaranje ugostiteljskih objekata, ograničavanje broja kupaca u dućanima, zabrana okupljanja itd.). Otprilike dva tjedna prije procesije dobili smo naredbu od policije da smiju ići samo troje ljudi plus križonoša u procesiji. Tjedan dana nakon toga, broj je povećan na deset ali nakon još nekoliko dana broj je smanjen na pet. Zahvaljujući naporima Antonija Škarpe, gradonačelnika Staroga Grada, Marija Lušića-Bulića, člana crkvenog odbora Vrbnja i Mika Belića Kice, predsjednika crkvenog odbora Jelse, broj je vraćen na deset ljudi. Zahvaljujući naporima glavnog „Stožera“ u Zagrebu, dopušteno nam je da u procesiji bude petnaest ljudi, što je donijelo mnogo olakšanja meni, mojoj obitelji i cijelome Vrbnju.

Ispričajte nam kako ste se osjećali kada je rasprava o ovom pitanju stigla na stol hrvatskog Premijera.

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Kako smo znali da je Premijer Plenković s Hvara i da je redoviti posjetitelj ovog događaja, bili smo uvjereni da će se procesija Za Križen održati, ali nam je broj sudionika bio misterija. Bili smo mentalno spremni na originalnih pet članova procesije ali kada je dan prije održavanja stigla vijest da će moći ići petnaest osoba, osjećali smo samo zahvalnost i sreću.

Kako su izgledale rasprave o tome kako nastaviti, koliko je blizu bila odluka da se sve otkaže?

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Kao što sam već rekao, bili smo spremni da će se procesija dogoditi uz sudjelovanje po pet osoba. Svima nama glavni fokus je bio da svih šest križeva prođe, tako da se ne prekine petstogodišnja tradicija. Moglo se lako dogoditi da tradicija bude otkazana, ali znam da sam ja osobno bio spreman krenuti sam uz pomoć svog oca, samo da izbjegnemo otkazivanje tradicije. Govorkalo se da bi se procesija mogla odgoditi na rujan, ali nitko na otoku nije bio sklon tome rješenju jer to jednostavno ne bi bilo isto. Slavimo Kristovu smrt i uskrsnuće u ovo doba godine s razlogom… Procesija ne bi imala nikakvog smisla kada bi se održavala u bilo koje drugo doba godine.

Drugdje u Hrvatskoj bilo je mnogo ljutnje što je dozvoljeno da se održi procesija Za Križen. Što kažete na to?

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Uz Hrvatsku i cijeli svijet usred ove pandemije, razumijem zašto su ljudi koji ne žive na Hvaru bili uzrujani. Stanovnici Hvara izolirani su 365 dana u godini i ovo je među rijetkim događajima kojima se stvarno vesele svake godine. Uz pažljivu pripremu procesije od strane „Stožera“ i policiju kao i sudionike koji poštuju sva pravila i odredbe koje su im dane. Prije procesije na Hvaru nisu zabilježeni slučajevi infekcije, tako da nije bilo posebne opasnosti. Srećom, nakon procesije možemo potvrditi da na Hvaru još uvijek nema slučajeva zaraze virusom, stoga velika zahvala svima koji su sudjelovali u procesiji na tome što su slijedili pravila!

Ljudi izvan Hvara ne dijele našu strast i osjećaje prema tradiciji staroj 500 godina, koje osjećaju stanovnici otoka. Posve razumijemo zabrinutost i prigovore koje smo čuli i mnogi od njih su bili u redu, ali postoje neke granice i linije koje se ne bi trebalo proći. Kada su ljudi počeli pokazivati manjak poštovanja prema crkvi, procesiji i na kraju prema samome Bogu, posebno kada ne razumiju koliko ova procesija znači stanovnicima Hvara, to je „prelaženje granice“. Mi koji imamo snažne pozitivne osjećaje prema crkvi, procesiji i Bogu bili smo iznervirani i osjećali smo manjak poštovanja zbog nepotrebnih komentara koji su išli protiv naših vjerovanja. Meni se čini da bi se tu trebalo primijeniti nešto što smo naučili u osnovnoj školi: „ako nemaš nešto pametno ili lijepo za reći, onda radije šuti.“

Kako je izgledala procesija kada je konačno krenula?

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Cijeli Hvar bio je uzbuđen i osjećao je zahvalnost. Ja sam bio posebno sretan jer sam na tu prigodu čekao dvadeset godina i konačno sam mogao slijediti stope svoga oca, djeda, strica i pradjeda u nošenju križa, ali sam bio još sretniji jer sam bio jedan od križonoša ove godine, koji su dobili priliku nastaviti ovu svetu tradiciju umjesto da ona bude prekinuta. Nitko nije očekivao da će ova godina biti „posebna“, ali ni ja ni moja obitelj ne možemo biti sretniji kako je na kraju sve ispalo. Cijela ovogodišnja Korizma bila je ispunjena molitvom kroz mise prenošene na televiziji koje su doprinosile duhovnoj pripremi. Sama procesija bila je malena, ali prekrasna i prepuna molitve. U procesiji smo imali dvojicu koji su predvodili molitvu cijelu noć. Uspjeli smo uključiti i dvojicu vrlo talentiranih pjevača iz Vrbnja koji su pomogli da naša pjesma kroz noć zvuči predivno. U Pitvama smo čuli komentar kako su impresionirani našim pjevanjem, jer je u crkvi bilo samo 10 ljudi koji su pjevali, a zvučalo je kao da ih je stotinu.

Vaša obitelj i stanovnici Vrbnja učinili su krasnu gestu za žrtve potresa u Zagrebu. Ispričajte nam više o akciji 'Varbonj za Zagreb'.

Usred priprema za procesiju Za Križen, prije otprilike mjesec dana, Zagreb je pogodio potres koji je oštetio mnoge domove i crkve. Istovremeno, nas su udarali neugodni komentari ljudi koji su bili protiv održavanja procesije. Moj otac i ja odlučili smo da ćemo pokloniti sva novčana sredstva koja smo primili kao poklon, u korist večere na Veliki Četvrtak i ručak (Obid od Križa) na Uskršnji ponedjeljak. Ako bi nas netko darivao poklonom koji nije novčani, izračunali bismo njegovu vrijednost i donirali bismo taj iznos iz našeg džepa za Zagreb.

Predložili smo ovu ideju don Mili Plenkoviću, svećeniku iz Vrbnja i crkvenom odboru, koji su to rado prihvatili i kampanju nazvali "Varbonj za Zagreb - Za Križen 2020". Također su odlučili da će i sav novac prikupljen tijekom Svetog Tjedna u crkvi, takozvanu „lemozinu“, također darovati u taj fond. Kada je sve završeno, tjedan dana nakon Uskrsa, s ponosom možemo reći da smo prikupili 100.000 kuna. 50.000 kuna bit će uplaćeno u fond koji je Vlada Republike Hrvatske otvorila za pomoć Zagrebu. Preostalih 50.000 uplatit ćemo na račun "Kuće sv. Terezije od Malog Isusa za nezbrinutu djecu" u Zagrebu. Radi se o instituciji koju vode Karmelićanke presvetog srca Isusova. Brinu se za djecu bez prikladne roditeljske skrbi. Potres je znatno oštetio njihovu zgradu u centru Zagreba, pa su je morali napustiti dok se ne obnovi.

I kako se sad osjećate, kada je proteklo dva tjedna od procesije? Sigurno je to za vas bilo posebno emocionalno vrijeme.

(Fascinantan prilog Hvar TV-a s križonošom iz Pitvi 2012)

Veoma sam ponosan na sebe i sretan što sam sudjelovao u ovoj tradiciji. Dok sam odrastao, budući da nisam bio stalno na Hvaru, mogao sam lako odustati od sudjelovanja, ali nakon što sam mnogo puta kao dijete dolazio na otok, shvatio sam da se radi o nečem u čemu zaista želim sudjelovati. Također sam zahvalan stanovnicima Vrbnja, što su me prihvatili kao svoga, pa me nisu doživjeli kao Kanađanina, nego kao Varbanjanina.
 
Da biste saznali više o procesiji Za Križen, provjerite dio TCN-a posvećen toj tradiciji.
Thursday, 23 April 2020

Za Krizen 2020 Through the Eyes of Vrbanj Cross-Bearer Matteo Bratanic (Interview)

April 22, 2020 - The 500-year-old UNESCO Za Krizen procession on Hvar was one of the only events to take place in Croatia this month. An in-depth interview behind the scenes with Vrbanj cross-bearer, Matteo Bratanic. 

In 1943, the Italian fascists limited it to just 12 people per procession, and in 1944, it took place in a refugee camp in the Sinai desert in Egypt. For more than 500 years, the Za Krizen procession on Hvar, which became inscribed as UNESCO intangible heritage in 2009, has taken place each year since 1510, with six simultaneous processions from Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj and Vrboska following a shoeless cross-bearer on an overnight, 25-kilometre pilgrimage of reflection and prayer. And while almost all events in Croatia have been cancelled this month, Za Krizen was controversially given permission to go ahead, albeit in much-reduced circumstances. Whereas hundreds or even thousands take part each year, Za Krizen 2020 was limited to just 15 people per procession.

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TCN was one of the few eye-witnesses of Za Krizen 2020. You an see our detailed account in Jelsa Za Krizen, Croatia Not Wuhan, & Cabin Fever Perspectives.

So what was it like to carry the cross in this most unusual Za Krizen year, and what was the story behind the scenes? I am very grateful to Vrbanj cross-bearer Matteo Bratanic for this fascinating and comprehensive view of this year's procession, preparations and aftermath through the eyes of one of the six men who carried the cross. Matteo Bratanic was the cross-bearer for Vrbanj. 

Tell us firstly when you signed up to carry the Vrbanj cross? How long ago?

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I wasn't actually the one who signed myself up to carry the Vrbanj cross. It was my late grandfather who did in 2000 when my uncle, Dr. Andre Bratanic carried the cross. I was 14 months old. Unfortunately, my grandfather, who signed me up, passed away in September of last year and didn't get the chance to see me completing his wish.

In a normal year, how would preparations look like?

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Even this year, preparations began normally. People who were closely involved with the procession would come to our house for dinners, the "Kantaduri" would practice their singing of the "Gospin Plac," and we would all collectively practice singing the songs that would be sung when we arrived in the different towns. Also with regards to preparations through the church... of course going to mass every Sunday, going to confession at the beginning of Lent and just slowly preparing yourself spiritually for what's to come.

How do you prepare yourself mentally and physically?

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Mentally, you have to just have to drill into your head that it's not impossible. Many people have walked the 25km while carrying an 8kg cross and you will be one of them. Also that there is no need to panic. To be honest, when we left Vrbanj for the procession, all I could think about was "Oh God, what did I get myself into, how am I going to be able to withstand this, etc." But a former priest that in Vrbanj, Don Branimir, said a very true thing that I totally agree with. "From Vrbanj to Vrboska... you carry the cross. From Vrboska onwards, the cross carries you." Once you find a comfortable position of carrying, it becomes a piece of cake. Physically, you must be prepared to carry an 8kg cross so upper body strength comes in very handy. Due to the pandemic, there wasn't much I could do so I would lock myself in my room and do push-ups and sit-ups as well as help my father in the fields which comes with lots of heavy lifting. I am very active as well. In Canada, I play soccer and go to the gym often so I wasn't worried. Also stamina is key as well to be able to withstand the 25km. We all know its not straight the entire way. The route to Pitve is the toughest because it's uphill all the way. Thanks to my soccer and constant hiking/walking, I was very prepared and felt in really great shape. In the morning when we got back to Vrbanj, I was ready to do another 25km lap. 

This was not a normal year. When did you realise that Za Krizen 2020 would not be like previous years, if it went ahead at all?

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1943, 1944 and 2020 will be the years people remember most. I realized that this year wouldn't be a normal year once all the restrictions came into play by the Croatian government (Cafes closing, stores allowing a limited number of people in at a time, no social gatherings, etc.). About two weeks before the procession, there was an order from the police that only three people plus the Krizonosa (cross-bearer) would go. A week after that, the number got pushed up to ten but shortly after, the number got reduced to five. Thanks to the efforts of Antonio Skarpa (Mayor of Stari Grad), Mario Lusic-Bulic (Member of Vrbanj church committee) and Miko Belic "Kica" (President of Jelsa church committee), the number went back up to ten people. Thankfully due to the efforts of the main "Stozer" in Zagreb, they allowed fifteen people to go for the procession which was a great relief to myself, my family and all of Vrbanj. 

Tell us about your emotions as discussions went to the desk of the Prime Minister.

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Knowing that Prime Minister Plenkovic is from Hvar and a regular attendee of this event, we were confident that "Za Krizen" would be go ahead but the number of participants remained a mystery. We were mentally prepared for the original five-person procession but when the news came the day before that fifteen people would go, we were nothing but thankful and joyful. 

How were discussions about how to proceed, and how close was it to being cancelled?

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As mentioned above, we were mentally prepared to take part in the procession with five people. Everybody's main focus was that the six crosses go so that the 500-year-old tradition wouldn't be stopped. The tradition could have easily been cancelled but I know for myself that I was ready to go on my own along with my father by my side just to avoid stopping the tradition. There were talks that it would be postponed until September. Nobody on the island was on board with that idea as it just wouldn't be the same. We are celebrating Christ's death and resurrection at this time for a reason... This procession would not make any sense at all if it were to take place during any other time in the year.

There was a lot of anger elsewhere in Croatia that Za Krizen was allowed to proceed. What do you say to that? 

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With Croatia along with the entire world being in this pandemic, I understand why people outside of Hvar would be upset. Residents of Hvar are isolated 365 days a year and this is one of the few things/events that they look forward to every year. With the careful preparation of the procession by the "Stozer" and police along with participants following all rules and regulations given to them. Before the procession there were no cases on Hvar so there was no chance for any danger. Thankfully after the procession we can confirm that there are still no cases on Hvar so a big thanks for everybody's participation in following the rules! We are all human with our own opinions. People outside of Hvar do not show the same passion and feeling towards this 500-year-old tradition as residents of the island do. We fully understand the concerns and complaints we faced and that is all fine, but there are certain limits and a line that should not be crossed.
 
Once people start showing disrespect towards the church, procession and ultimately God, especially when they do not understand how much this procession means to the residents of Hvar, this is "crossing the line." We who have a strong positive feeling towards the church, procession and God get very annoyed and disrespected with unnecessary comments against our beliefs. In my opinion as a message for all people and this is something we learn in elementary school... "If you don't have something nice or smart to say, don't say it at all."

How was the procession for you when it finally went ahead? 

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All Hvar was excited and thankful. I was very happy because I have been waiting 20 years for this opportunity and I was finally able to follow my father's, grandfather's, uncle's and great grandfather's footsteps in carrying the cross, but I was happier that I would be one of the six "Krizonose" this year who would continue this sacred tradition, and not stop it. Nobody expected that this year would be "unusual," but myself and my family could not be more pleased with how everything turned out. Throughout Lent this year, it was filled with lots of prayer through masses on TV contributing to spiritual preparation. The procession itself was very small but very beautiful and full of prayer. In the procession, we had two guys who were leading the prayers throughout the night. We also managed to include very talented singers from Vrbanj who made the singing throughout the night sound very beautiful. In Pitve, we received a comment on how they were very impressed with our singing as there were only ten people in the church singing but it sounded as if there were 100 people. 

Your family and the people of Vrbanj did a very nice gesture for the earthquake victims of Zagreb. Tell us about 'Varbonj za Zagreb.' 

About a month ago in the middle of the roller coaster ride of preparing for "Za Krizen," there was an earthquake that affected Zagreb where quite a few homes and churches got damaged. At the same time, we were getting blasted with unpleasant comments from people who were against the procession from occurring. My father and I decided that we would donate all money received as a gift, funds towards dinner on Holy Thursday and Lunch (Obid od Kriza) on Easter Monday. If anybody gave a gift that was not money, we would calculate the value of that gift and donate that amount from our own pockets for Zagreb.
 
We proposed this idea to don Mili Plenkovic (the priest in Vrbanj) and the church committee who gladly accepted this proposal and named the campaign "Varbonj za Zagreb - Za Krizen 2020." They also suggested that they would donate to that fund any money collected during the Holy Week in church as "lemozina." Once everything was completed a week after Easter, we are proud to say that 100,000.00 HRK was raised. 50,000.00 HRK will be paid to the account opened by the government of the Republic of Croatia to help of Zagreb. The remaining 50,000.00 HRK will be paid on the account of "Kuce sv. Terezije od Malog Isusa za nezbrinutu djecu" in Zagreb. Indeed, it is an institution led by the Carmelites of the divine heart of Jesus. They take care of children who don't have proper parent care. As the earthquake significantly damaged their building in the center of Zagreb, they had to leave their premises until everything was renovated.

And how do you feel now, 2 weeks later? It must have been an incredibly emotional time for you. 

(Hvar TV with the 2012 Pitve cross-bearer behind the scenes - fascinating report)

I feel very proud of myself and happy that I took part in this tradition. Growing up, not being fully on Hvar, I could have easily refused to take part, but after coming many times as a child, I realized that this is something that I want to do. I am also thankful that people of Vrbanj accepted me as one of their own where I am not seen as a "Kanadanin" (Canadian) but as a "Varbanjanin." 
 
To learn more about Za Krizen, check out the dedicated TCN section.
Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Varbonj za Zagreb Earthquake: 100,000 Kuna Za Krizen Proceeds

April 22, 2020 - The final chapter of Za Krizen 2020, as the Varbonj za Zagreb earthquake appeal reaches 100,000 kuna. A message from cross-bearer Matteo Bratanic.

As previously reported on TCN, the UNESCO-listed Za Krizen religious procession on Maundy Thursday was one of the few events to be allowed to take place in this corona era, albeit in strictly controlled circumstances (you can see the detailed TCN eye-witness account of the 9-hour procession). 

Matteo Bratanic, the Vrbanj cross-bearer, his family and the people of the village of Vrbanj decided to donate all the proceeds from Za Krizen 2020, including a monetary value on all gifts received, to victims of the devastating earthquakes in Zagreb last month. As I wrote last week, Matteo's father Toni, explained a little more about the Varbonj za Zagreb campaign (Varbonj is a dialect word for Vrbanj), as well as inviting people to contribute until last Sunday. 

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My name is Matteo Bratanic, this year's Krizonosa from Vrbanj. To add on to the email my father sent you, below is the final numbers and thanks to everybody involved:
 
Thank you to everyone! The humanitarian action that we started on Palm Sunday was successfully completed. A total of 100,000.00 KN was collected. As you know, the donations could have been paid to the parish account, directly to the pastor, as a "lemozina" to the church and of course to Matteo himself who gave up all the monetary gifts received. On top of the collected contributions, the Bratanic family donated an amount to round the number up to 100,000.00 KN. 50,000.00 KN will be paid to the account opened by the government of the Republic of Croatia opened for the help of Zagreb.
 
The remaining 50,000.00 KN will be paid on the account of "Kuce sv. Terezije od Malog Isusa za nezbrinutu djecu" in Zagreb. Indeed, it is an institution led by the Carmelites of the divine heart of Jesus. They take care of children who don't have proper parent care. As the earthquake significantly damaged their building in the center of Zagreb, they had to leave their premises until everything was renewed. And we decided to make our little contribution to the restoration of the same!
 
Thank you to all of you who participated in your applications, it doesn't matter how much they are, more importantly that it was given from the heart. Most thanks to Matteo and the Bratanic family for the idea and proposal to start this action, and for participating in it. God bless all of you!
 
Thanks,
Matteo
 
To learn more about Za Krizen, check out the dedicated TCN section.
 
For news about the Zagreb earthquake aftermath, click here
Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Varbonj za Zagreb: Za Krizen 2020 Proceeds Donated to Earthquake Victims

April 13, 2020 - After all the media attention about Za Krizen 2020, what a beautiful footnote and gesture - Varbonj za Zagreb. 

People often ask me what is my favourite time of year on Hvar, and my answer always surprises them. 

Most expect me to talk about the summer, or perhaps the more relaxed shoulder seasons. While these are amazing, if I could only visit my adopted island once a year, it would not be then. 

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It would be Easter. 

There is so much joy and celebration in the air, as the island wakes from its winter slumber, returning islanders home for the long weekend, enjoying family reunions amid this most important of Catholic events. 

After days of silence, the sound of the peeling of the Jelsa bells on Easter Sunday morning is one of the most joyous sounds imaginable, as was evidenced by the number of people who liked, shared and tagged others when I posted the video above from our terrace two days ago. 

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I was very fortunate to be able to attend the entire Za Krizen 2020 in Jelsa, and I managed to capture all six processions. I was also very happy to be able to contribute my eye-witness account of the whole evening, which differed considerably from what was reported second-hand elsewhere. You can read Za Krizen 2020, Croatia Not Wuhan & Cabin Fever Perspectives. (You can also find a Croatian version here)

I had the loveliest phone call of 2020 so far earlier today from Toni Bratanic, the father of this year's cross-bearer from Vrbanj (Varbonj in dialect). He thanked me for the TCN coverage, including the video of Vrbanj entering Jelsa which was edited by my wife Miranda (above). 

And then he told me about a little initiative called Varbonj za Zagreb. Rather than me trying to explain it, here is what Toni sent me in an email which followed. 

Varbonj za Zagreb – Za Križen 2020

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Dear parishioners and all people of goodwill!

On the proposal of the family of Mateo Bratanic, this year’s “Križonoša” and with the support of the parish economic council, we are launching a humanitarian action for Zagreb called “Varbonj za Zagreb – Za Križen 2020” due to the recent earthquakes that occurred there. This benefit, which is very special, has taught us, among other things, about solidarity, in this case towards those who are left without a roof over their heads. And so, a little village by the name Varbonj decided to help the big city of Zagreb. A long-term tradition is that all of those who are in “Čosti” for “Za Križen,” donate physical and/or monetary gifts. Even people who are not in “Čosti” usually take part as well. This year’s Križonoša, Mateo, has decided to give up all gifts in favor of this action and all money planned to spend on lunch and dinner after Easter which is usually held for people who took part in helping in any way during the preparations and actual procession. In addition to gifts given to Mateo, people will be able to give donations to the Varbonj’s priest, don Mili Plenkovic but also directly to the church bank account.

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The account number is HR5824070001100623865 and make sure to provide a note “Varbonj za Zagreb” in the description. The parish will also donate “lemozinu,” money collected during Holy Week. We will be collecting donations until next Sunday April 19th, 2020. This is when we will be announcing the total amount that we have collected.

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Thank you and God bless! 

A nice postscript to a very emotional week here on Hvar. I will write an article about the amount raised after the final amount is known after Sunday. 

For more on TCN's coverage of Za Krizen 2020 and previous years, visit the dedicated section.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Stunning Drone Footage as Jelsa Za Krizen Procession Concludes on Hvar

April 12, 2020 - A spectacular aerial view of the final moments of Za Krizen 2020 in Jelsa on the island of Hvar.

It has been quite an Easter weekend here in Jelsa with all the controversy of the Za Krizen procession taking place in the corona era. 

Lots of opinions on both sides as to whether or not the procession - which has taken place every year for 500 years - should go ahead in the current situation. 

Permission was given at Prime Ministerial level, and each of the six processions in Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj and Vrboska were restricted to 15 people, plus five additional singers, rather than the hundreds or thousands in normal years. 

Due to the travel restrictions, not only were there no pilgrims, but also very few journalists. As I found myself as one of only four of them, I felt an obligation to take as much footage as I could, which was a good decision in retrospect, as what I physically saw on the ground was MUCH different to what was reported in the Croatian media second-hand. You can read the photo and video report of how the procession was controlled by the Hvar police and local authorities here. (There is also a Croatian language version, as well as a report on the actual processions through the night, and finally an edited tribute to each of the six cross bearers). 

MyHvar was also out, which resulted in this beautiful aerial view of Jelsa at 06:00 on Good Friday morning, as the Jelsa procession returned home after a long night. 

What is interesting to notice for those who outraged at the supposed mass social distancing violations (yes, there were some, but I looked at this topic at length in the photo and video report on the link above), not only was nobody following the procession (there were a couple of thousand people last year), but note how far apart the local people are on the left as the procession goes by, as well as how empty the main square was. A really good video which will be appreciated by many. 

And enjoy the video, beautifully shot. Ironically, while this year's Za Krizen procession was attended by so few, technology in the form of the webcams from the church and the pjaca, the videos I uploaded through the night and the more polished ones edited by Miranda Milicic Bradbury the following day (see Jelsa arrival and subsequent departure to St John's Square in her video below) ensured that perhaps more people than ever took place in this iconic procession. 

To learn more about the Za Krizen procession, check out the dedicated link

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Jelsa Za Krizen, Hrvatska Nije Wuhan i Osjecaj Kabinske Groznice

11. travanj 2020. - Odluka da se dopusti održavanje procesije Za Križen u Jelsi izazvala je mnoštvo rasprave. Detaljan izvještaj jedinog stranca koji je prisustvovao cijelom događaju na Hvaru.

(ENGLISH VERSION)

Ovo je članak koji zaista ne želim pisati, jer znam da će rezultirati dodatnim napadima i zlostavljanju s nekih strana, bez obzira što napisao, zbog povišenih emocija i osjećaja o ovoj temi. Ali, odlučio sam se ipak napisati ga, jer osjećam da imam moralnu obvezu to učiniti.  

Moralnu obvezu iz dva razloga. Prije svega prema stanovnicima Hvara, koji ove godine nisu mogli sudjelovati u petstogodišnjoj tradiciji koju štiti UNESCO, a koja je gotovo dio njihovog DNA - slučajan razvoj događaja doveo je do toga da sam bio jedan od šačice (manje od deset) ljudi bez službene pozicije koji je dobio priliku prisustvovati cijelom događaju i svih šest procesija. Osjećam obvezu podijeliti što više informacija, uključujući i videosnimke i fotografije. Ovdje već možete vidjeti prvi opširan izvještaj (na engleskom jeziku), kao i uređenu video posvetu svakome od šest nositelja križa ovdje


 

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TCN-ovo izvještavanje o procesiji Za Križen 2020 u Jelsi (a koje je pokrilo i preostalih pet procesija iz Vrboske, Vrbnja, Svirča, Vrisnika i Pitvi) do sada je prenešeno na portalima Bitno.net, Laudato TV, 24 Sata, Index, Tportal, Dalmacija Danas, Telegram, Dalmacija News, Šibenik In, Morski.hr, Maxportal.hr, a pojavilo se i u nacionalnim večernjim vijestima na RTL Danas. Laudato TV čak me nazvao Ircem, a tako su postali prvi portal koji je prihvatio moju post-Brexit stvarnost. 

Intenzivan interes medija za naš rad imao je manje veze s kvalitetom onoga što smo proizveli, a puno više, naravno, s činjenicom da sam zbog trenutačnih ograničenja kretanja bio jedan od malog broja novinara u zemlji koji su mogli prisustvovati događaju. 

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Bila je ovo po tom pitanju čudna godina za TCN, budući da smo kolega i ja bili jedini stranci na inauguraciji Predsjednika Milanovića prije par mjeseci. Više o dojmovima stranca s hrvatske predsjedničke inauguracije pročitajte ovdje

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A onda, još čudniji osjećaj: početak procesije Za Križen u Jelsi u četvrtak. Ne samo da sam bio jedini stranac na glavnom trgu, nego sam bio i jedina osoba. 

Meni se čini da postoje tri aspekta ove odluke koji su raspirili emocije. 

1) Društveno distanciranje

2) Ljutnja što su mnogi drugi događaji otkazani, a ljudi zatvoreni u svoje kuće, a istovremeno je procesija Za Križen dopuštena.

3) Kako se približava Uskrs, važno vrijeme za obitelji u Hrvatskoj, dopuštanje odvijanja ove procesije može poslati pogrešnu poruku. 

Neću se doticati posljednjih dviju točaka, jer moje mišljenje nije bitno, a i davno sam naučio da uskakivanje u polarizirane debate dovodi do otklizavanja u rasprave o ustašama i partizanima u par minuta. Ali, imam mnogo toga reći o prvoj temi, kao i dodati nešto vrijednosti u raspravu, budući da sam imao pristup cijeloj procesiji.  

Prije nego što krenem, mislim da je bitno napomenuti da ljudi imaju različita iskustva i perspektive, ovisno o tome koliko im je kretanje ograničeno i nalaze li se s nekim, i s kim točno, u izolaciji. I iako ne mogu zamisliti kako je biti zatvoren u Zagrebu s koronom vani a potresima unutra, brinem se i za prijatelja koji je na idiličnom karipskom otoku koji je upravo zabilježio prvu smrt od Covida-19. Nema nikakve šanse naći se na letu s otoka, a otok ima 10 bolničkih kreveta i 2 respiratora. Posve drukčiji zatvor, ako ga usporedimo sa Zagrebom, a možda čak i još više zastrašujući, bez obzira na sunce i mogućnost odlaska na plažu. 

Nijedno mjesto nije savršeno za biti dok sve ovo prođe i posve prihvaćam da su okolnosti u sunčanoj Jelsi mnogo bolje nego na mnogim drugim mjestima. Da smo ostali u našoj kući u Varaždinu, vjerujem da bismo se poubijali, a iako su zdravstveni resursi na otoku ograničeni, Split nije daleko a hrvatske hitne službe rade fantastičan posao iako su već desetljećima slabo financirane. 

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Dio naslova je da Hrvatska nije Wuhan. Postoji razlog za to, iako sam svjestan da će neki to vidjeti kao obični clickbait. Želim dodati jedan pasus o clickbaitu u ovu raspravu prije nego što nastavim, jer je to važan aspekt ove debate. Sada prolazimo kroz eru vrhunca clickbaita, a neki medijski članci o ovoj procesiji dobrano su se tome prepustili. 

Iako ne osuđujem portale koji provode politiku clickbaita (više o tome zašto malo kasnije), to je nešto čemu se urednički snažno protivim na TCN-u. Iako ne možemo to uvijek postizati, budući da imamo mnoštvo suradnika i opuštenu politiku objavljivanja, kvaliteta nam je značajno važnija od brze gotovine koju mogu pružiti klikovi vođeni histerijom. Po mom mišljenju, kratkotrajni financijski dobitak s druge bi strane doveo do gubitka kvalitetnih čitatelja, koji bi ispravno zaključili da smo clickbait stranica. 

Zašto onda ne osuđujem druge portale? Prihod od Adsensea je ključan prihod za medijske portale ovih dana, a prihod od Adsensea stvaraju klikovi. Što imate više klikova, to više zarađujete. Što imate više clickbait članaka, to imate više klikova i više novca. Trenutačna financijska situacija na TCN-u je takva da nam je doslovno svaki klijent zamrznuo suradnju - tijekom posljednjih tri mjeseca. Bolno ali razumljivo. I u međuvremenu nam se jedan klijent vratio i novi nam se klijent priključio jučer, ali to znači da je punih mjesec dana JEDINI izvor prihoda za TCN bio prihod od Adsensea. Dakle, da bih nahranio svoju djecu, u interesu mi je bilo privući klikove na našu stranicu. Pa je pitanje bilo, raditi kompromise po pitanju kvalitete ili zamoliti djecu da nešto manje jedu? To je dio rasprave o clickbaitima koji se rijetko spominje. 

Žao mi je, djeco, odlučio sam se za kvalitetu ALI dobra vijest je da se klijenti vraćaju i dolaze nam i novi, pa ćemo uskoro moći ponovo dobro jesti. I, da, šalim se o tome imaju li mi djeca što jesti - kada imate privilegiju pristupa kvalitetnih proizvoda svoga punca i legendarne Konobe Zorica koju vodi vaša punica, nitko neće umrijeti od gladi. 

Oprostite mi na dugom uvodu, ali mislim da je bio bitan kako biste shvatili ovu kompleksnu situaciju. 

Pa počnimo. Pa zašto Hrvatska (niti bilo koje drugo mjesto na svijetu) nije Wuhan? Pogledajte na grafiku koja pokazuje razinu restrikcija u nekim evropskim zemljama. Dok je Wuhan imao potpuni "lockdown", u svim ovim zemljama, uključujući i Hrvatsku, on je bio samo djelomičan.
 

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Ovo je Split krajem prošlog mjeseca, gdje su domaći ljudi uživali u tradicionalnoj igri picigina na proljetnome suncu. Zadržavali su prikladnu društvenu distancu, a i pravila igre čini se da ne dopuštaju da igrači budu unutar metra jedan od drugoga. Prenošenje virusa na lopti posve je drugi aspekt ove igre.  Ali, ovo je i izvrstan vizualni primjer onoga što se trenutačno događa u Hrvatskoj. Većina, ali ne i svi, se pridržavaju pravila i održavaju prikladan razmak. Pitao sam profesora Igora Rudana, jednog od vodećih globalnih eksperata za pitanja pandemije koje je njegovo mišljenje o toj fotografiji u članku Jurgen Klopp and Igor Rudan: the Only COVID-19 Opinions You Need. Njegov odgovor u jednoj rečenici bio je:

Mogu samo reći da, ako napustite svoj dom, niste više posve sigurni, jer i dalje ne znamo kako se ovaj virus tako lako širi. Dok to ne saznamo, ja bih radije ostao doma.

Njegovu mnogo dužu i iznimno informativnu analizu možete pronaći na engleskom jeziku ovdje: How to Maintain Good Results and Exit Quarantine as Soon as Possible.

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Je li tijekom procesije Za Križen bilo kršenja pravila društvenog distanciranja? Da.

Jesu li ta kršenja bila gora od trenutačne situacije diljem Hrvatske? GLASNO NE, DAPAČE, MISLIM DA JE STANJE BILO MNOGO, MNOGO BOLJE

Dajte mi kameru i pristup bilo kojem gradu u Hrvatskoj sa zadatkom da pokažem šokantna kršenja pravila društvenog distanciranja, i napravit ću vam svaki dan novi clickbait članak pa će me na kraju djeca moliti da im prestanem kupovati toliko čokolade. I ono što bih uspio uhvatiti možda će biti istina, ali neće biti reprezentativno za cijelu zemlju. 

Ili, recimo to na drugi način. Koliko ste često, ako ikad, prošetali susjedstvom u kojem živite u Hrvatskoj i primijetili da se 100% vaših susjeda pridržava propisanih pravila?

Nisam očekivao da će tijekom procesije Za Križen biti besprijekorno društveno distanciranje, ali mislim da to ni nitko drugi nije očekivao. Veliko je pitanje - barem se meni tako činilo - bilo koliko će se ostvariti bliskoga kontakta i koliko će ljudi kršiti pravila. I OVO je meni bila priča te večeri i razlog zašto moje poštovanje prema ljudima s Hvara nikad nije bilo veće. 

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Trenutačno u Jelsi ne smijemo napuštati svoju općinu, ali smijemo otići u šetnju, ako se držimo pravila o prikladnoj udaljenosti. Ovo znači da si svaki dan smijem priuštiti 30 minuta uz Jadran, što me održava koliko-toliko normalnim. Ali to također znači da su ljudi iz Jelse mogli legalno izaći na ulice i na neki način sudjelovati u procesiji. To bi neminovno dovelo do mnogo više kontakata i kršenja pravila, da se dogodilo. A budući da je Za Križen TOLIKO važan dio lokalnog genetskog koda, to se moglo očekivati. Pa što se zaista dogodilo, i kako su vlasti kontrolirale stvari?  Evo mog iskustva iz i oko Jelse, najvećeg naselja od šest koji sudjeluju u procesiji. Bio sam vani cijelu noć i imao priliku prisustvovati većini onoga što se dogodilo.  

Prvi pozitivan znak (a i iznenađenje) dogodilo se na vrhu stepenica (pogledajte fotografiju iznad) kojima se spuštam do rive. Stepenice je svojim autom blokirao Ivo Tomić, moj stomatolog, koji je ispunjavao svoju ulogu svjesnog građanina ograničavajući kretanje. Ivo je unaprijed znao da ja imam dozvolu sa sigurne udaljenosti prisustvovati procesiji, te mi je samo mahnuo da prođem. 

Trebao bih objasniti i ovo s dozvolom. Nazvao sam voditelja lokalnog Stožera, Igora, da mu kažem da planiram šetati se oko procesije, prema pravilima, ali da sam htio s njim provjeriti je li to u redu, s obzirom na osjetljivo vrijeme u kojem živimo. Igor me uputio da se javim Juri Tadiću, šefu policije Hvara, koji je to dopustio, ali i predložio da to potvrdi i načelnik općine Jelsa, Nikša Peronja. Načelnik Peronja potvrdio je to mailom. 

I onda me nekoliko sati prije procesije nazvao policijski šef Tadić. Protrnuo sam. Jedina misao kad sam vidio da me on zove bila je da mora da mi javlja da ipak moram ostati doma. No, upravo suprotno, zvao je pitati me gdje točno planiram biti i rekao mi je da se, ako budem imao bilo kakvih problema, slobodno njemu direktno javim. Hvala vam, gospodine, cijenim to. 

A onda dalje na glavni trg, gdje je glavna akcija uskoro trebala početi...

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Nije bilo moguće doći na trg ako niste imali dozvolu. Meni su samo mahnuli da prođem.

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Svaki ulazak bio je blokiran. 

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Moj pogled na trg u 22 sata, kada je procesija trebala krenuti. 

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Glavna crkva u Jelsi inače je prepuna hodočasnika koji gledaju a kasnije slijede početak procesije. Ne ovoga četvrtka. 

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I ta se kontrola nastavila kroz cijelu noć. 00:30, dok smo čekali na procesiju iz Vrbnja. 

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Šef policije Hvara Jure Tadić savršeno je vodio operaciju cijelu noć. 

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Ali, glavno iznenađenje bilo mi je to koliko je malo ljudi uopće bilo na ulicama. Neki su odabrali svoje mjesto na ruti procesije i kako se procesija kretala po ulici koja vodi iz grada, bilo ih je možda dvanaestak, međusobno udaljenih više metara. Kako je procesija prolazila, tako su se niz lice jedne domaće žene slijevale suze. Da sam ja clickbait novinar, to bi bila glavna fotografija uz ovogodišnju procesiju. Nisam pitao radi li se o suzama radosnicama što se procesija ipak odvija, suzama frustracije što ne može sudjelovati, ili suzama zbog cjelokupne situacije u kojoj se nalazimo. Kako god bilo, meni je iskristaliziralo što točno procesija Za Križen znači ljudima Jelse, Pitvi, Vrisnika, Svirča, Vrbnja i Vrboske.

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A onda je bilo očito da se ne može proći pokraj policije na kopnu...  

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... ili na moru.  

Ali što će se dogoditi kad se procesija vrati u Jelsu ujutro? Sigurno će se tad ljudi okupiti? Da biste dobili osjećaj, evo kako je završila procesija Za Križen u Jelsi 2019. godine. 

Meni je to najsretnije doba godine u Jelsi, jer su energija i veselje u kafićima koje se pruža hodočasnicima nakon njihovog 9-satnog iskustva tijekom noći nešto zaista čarobno.  

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Dođimo brzo do 2020., kada prikladno međusobno udaljeni Jelsani očekuju povratak njihove procesije. Bio sam potpuno šokiran. I potpuno ponosan.  

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Čekali su samo Don Stanko i šačica drugih ljudi.

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Još jedna od snažnih fotografija procesije 2020. 

Možete vidjeti dolazak križa u ovoj video-montaži koju je priredila Miranda Miličić Bradbury, a koja uključuje neke fantastične snimke prolaska procesije prema crkvi Sv. Ivana. Ovo je neprikosnoveni vrhunac te noći.  

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I najgore kršenje pravila međusobne udaljenosti tijekom cijele procesije, ali i dalje nešto što se događa u svakom uglu Hrvatske. Iz perspektive društvene distance, Za Križen nije bila ništa gora - a vjerojatno i nešto bolja - od onoga što se trenutačno događa diljem Hrvatske.  Druge dvije teme debate koje sam gore spomenuo svaka su zasebna rasprava, ali po mom mišljenju, nema ni jednog razloga da se u Hrvatskoj uopće debatira o kršenju društvene distance tijekom procesije Za Križen. Bi li bilo bolje da se Za Križen ove godine nije dogodila, jednako kao što su otkazani mnogi drugi događaji u Hrvatskoj tijekom kojih dolazi do ozbiljnih kršenja pravila?  Uz naklon bih se složio s profesorom Rudanom i rekao da da. 

Ali, Hrvatska nije Wuhan i to je odluka koju su donijele hrvatske vlasti, jednako kao i neki ljudi u Hrvatskoj, koji osobno čine postupke koji dovode do kršenja pravila društvene distance. 

 

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Moja se priča završava. Trg Sv. Ivana. 

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Glavni trg u Jelsi, pet minuta nakon dolaska procesije.  

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I pogled s rive.  

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Samo jedan ranojutarnji razgovor, uz prikladan razmak, koji prekida tišinu.  

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Mir i tišina praznog ranog jutra, koje sam naučio cijeniti tijekom svog boravka ovdje.  

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I posljednja fotografija posljednjeg policijskog postupanja u ovoj izvanredno provedenoj operaciji: dezinficiranje svoga plovila. 

Moja zahvala i poštovanje svima onima koji su ostvarili da Za Križen 2020 bude uspješna u iznimno zahtjevnim okolnostima. 

Nadam se da će ovaj izvještaj donijeti nešto jasnoće u raspravu, kao i nešto više informacija i fotografija onima kojima je procesija Za Križen draga. 

Možete vidjeti više izvještaja o procesiji Za Križen 2020, uključujući i video snimke prethodnih procesija, na posebnoj stranici TCN je posvetio toj temi

 

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Jelsa Za Krizen, Croatia Not Wuhan & Cabin Fever Perspectives

April 11, 2020 - The decision to allow the Jelsa Za Krizen procession to proceed has caused plenty of debate. A detailed account from the only foreigner to witness the whole event on Hvar. 

(CROATIAN VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE)

This is an article I really do not want to write, since I know it will lead to more attacks and abuse from some quarters, no matter what I write, due to the high emotions and feelings about the subject. But I have decided to write it because I feel I have a moral obligation to do so. 

A moral obligation for two reasons. Firstly to the people of Hvar, who were unable to take part in this 500-year-old UNESCO tradition which is almost part of their DNA - a chance turn of events meant that I was only a handful (less than ten) of people outside officialdom who got to witness the whole event and all six processions. I feel a duty to share as much information, including videos and photos as I can. You can already see the first comprehensive report here, as well as an edited video tribute to each of the six cross bearers here

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TCN's coverage and videos of the Jelsa Za Krizen 2020 (which also covered the other five processions from Vrboska, Vrbanj, Svirce, Vrisnik and Pitve) has already been featured in Bitno.net, Laudato TV, 24 Sata, Index, Tportal, Dalmacija Danas, Telegram, Dalmacija News, Sibenik In, Morski.hr, Maxportal.hr, as well as appearing on the national evening news on RTL Danas. Laudato TV even referred to me as Irish, the first portal to note my post-Brexit reality. 

This intense media interest in our work had less to do with the quality of what we produced and more, of course, with the fact the current travel restrictions meant that I was one of the only journalists in the country who could attend the event. 

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It has certainly been a strange year for TCN in that regard, as my colleague and I were the only foreigners at the inauguration of President Milanovic a couple of months ago. You can read more about a foreign perspective on a Croatian presidential inauguration here

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And then, an even stranger feeling. at the start of the Jelsa Za Krizen procession on Thursday. Not only the only foreigner on the main square but also the only person. 

As far as I can see, there are three aspects of the decision which have flared emotions. 

1) Social distancing.

2) Anger that while other events are cancelled and people are confined to homes, Za Krizen went ahead.

3) With Easter approaching, such an important family time for Croatians, allowing the procession to proceed sent out the wrong message. 

I am not going to touch the last two topics, since my opinion does not matter, and I learned a long ago about jumping into polarised debates that will descend to Ustasa v Partizani in minutes. But I do have a lot to say on the first topic, as well as value to add to the discussion due to my close access to the entire procession.  

Before I do so, I think it is also important to mention that everyone is having a different experience and perspective based on how confined they are and who they are (or are not) locked down with. While I can't imagine what I must be like caged in Zagreb with corona on the outside and earthquakes on the inside, I worry too about a friend on an idyllic Caribbean island which just registered its first corona death. With no chance of flights out, the island only had 10 hospital beds and two respirators. A different kind of prison compared to Zagreb, and perhaps even more terrifying despite the sun and access to the beach. 

No place is perfect to sit this one out, and I fully acknowledge that my circumstances in sunny Jelsa are much better than many others. Had we stayed in the house in Varazdin, we would have ended up killing each other for sure, and while health facilities on the island are limited, Split is not far away, and Croatia's emergency services do an outstanding job despite decades of underfunding. 

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Part of the title is 'Croatia not Wuhan.' There is a reason for that, although I am aware that some may see this as clickbait. I want to add a paragraph on clickbait to the discussion before I proceed because it is an important aspect of the debate. There has never been a greater era of clickbait than today, and some media articles on this procession have indulged in that. 

While I do not judge portals which do engage in a policy of clickbait (more on why in a minute), it is something I strongly oppose on TCN editorially. Although we don't always achieve it, given the number of contributors we have and the relaxed publishing policy, quality is of much more importance than quick cash from hysteria-driven clicks. In my opinion, the short-term financial gain would be offset by the loss of quality readers who would rightly conclude that we were a clickbait site. 

So why don't I judge other portals? Adsense revenue is an essential revenue stream for media portals these days, and Adsense revenue is generated by clicks. The more clicks, the more cash you make. The more clickbaity articles, the more clicks, the more cash. TCN's current financial status is that every single client we had put our cooperation on hold, every single one - over a period of three days last month. Painful but understandable. While one has now come back and we picked up a new client yesterday, this has meant that for a month, the ONLY revenue stream for TCN has been Adsense revenue. So in order to feed my kids, it is in my interest to attract clicks to the site. So do I compromise on quality, or ask the kids to eat less? That is a part of the clickbait debate that rarely gets discussed. 

Sorry kids, I went for quality BUT the good news is that clients are coming back and new ones committing, so we will be able to eat well again real soon. And yes, I am joking about not having food for the kids - when you have access to the quality produce of your punac and the legendary Konoba Zorica run by your punica, nobody will starve. 

Sorry for the long intro, but I think it is necessary to have a better understanding of this complex situation. 

Let's begin. So why is Croatia (or anywhere else in the world) not Wuhan? Look at the chart above on the level of restrictions in some European countries. While Wuhan had total lockdown, these countries and Croatia have partial lockdown. 

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This is Split late last month, where locals were enjoying a traditional game called picigin in the Spring sunshine. They were appropriately socially distanced, and the rules of the game apparently mean you can not be within one metre of another player. Passing the virus on via the ball is another aspect to the game, however. But this is also a great visual example of what is currently happening in Croatia. MOST but not ALL are adhering to the rules and appropriate distancing. I asked Professor Igor Rudan, one of the leading global experts on pandemics what was his opinion of the above photo in Jurgen Klopp and Igor Rudan: the Only COVID-19 Opinions You Need. His one-line answer was:

I can only say that, if you leave home, you are no longer safe, because we still have no idea how this virus can spread so easily. Until we do, I would rather stay in.

His much longer, and highly informative analysis can be found in How to Maintain Good Results and Exit Quarantine as Soon as Possible.

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Were there social distancing violations at Za Krizen? Yes

Were they worse than the current situation all over Croatia? An EMPHATIC NO, INDEED MUCH, MUCH BETTER

Give me a camera and access to any city in Croatia with a brief to show the shocking abuse of social distancing rules, and I will have a daily clickbait article which will have my kids begging me to stop buying them so much chocolate. While what I capture might be true, it would not be representative. 

Or let's put is another way. How often, if ever, have you been out in the neighbourhood where you live in Croatia and seen 100% adherence to the social distancing rules?

I never expected Za Krizen to have total social distancing, and I don't think anyone else did. The big question - to me at least - was how much close contact there would be, and how many people would violate. And THIS to me was the story of the night and the reason why my respect for the people of Hvar has never been higher. 

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Currently in Jelsa, we are not allowed to leave the area, but we are free to go for a walk, if we are appropriately socially distanced. This means that I can get my 30 minutes a day by the Adriatic which is keeping me sane. But it also meant that all the locals could legally come out and take part in the procession in some way. That would necessarily lead to a lot more contact and violations if it were to happen. And with Za Krizen SUCH an important part of the local genetic makeup, it was to be expected. So what actually happened, and how did the authorities control things? Here is my experience in and around Jelsa, the biggest of the six settlements. I was out all night so had the chance to observe the most.  

The first reassurance (and surprise) came at the top of the steps (see above) I use to go to the riva. It was blocked by the car of my dentist, Ivo Tomic, who was doing his bit as a good citizen to limit movement. Ivo had been informed that I had been given permission to attend the procession from distance and waved me through. 

I should mention at this point about the permission. I called the head of the local Stozer, Igor, to say that I planned to wander around, as per the rules, but just wanted to check if that was ok, as I knew it was a sensitive time. Igor referred me to check with Jure Tadic, the Hvar Police Chief, who gave his blessing but suggested I get confirmation from Jelsa Mayor, Niksa Peronja. Mayor Peronja confirmed by email. 

And then a few hours before the procession Police Chief Tadic called me. My heart sank. The only reason for the call must be to tell me to stay home, I thought as his number flashed up. But quite the contrary, he wanted to know exactly where I planned to be, and to let me know that if I had any problems, to call him directly. Thank you, Sir, that was much appreciated. 

And so to the main square, where the main action would soon begin...

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No chance to get to the square unless you had permission. I was waved through.

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Every entrance was blocked. 

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My view of the square at 22:00, when the procession was due to start. 

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The main church in Jelsa is normally packed with pilgrims watching, and then following, the start of the procession. Not on Thursday. 

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And that control continued through the night. 00:30 as we waited for the Vrbanj procession. 

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Hvar Police Chief Jure Tadic ran a perfect operation all night. 

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But the main surprise was how few people there were on the streets at all. Some had chosen their own spot along the route, and as the procession went along the road out of the town, there were perhaps a dozen, each several metres apart. As the procession passed, tears poured out of one local woman. Had I been that clickbait journalist, it would have been the photo of the procession. I did not enquire if they were tears of joy at seeing the procession happen, frustration at not being able to take part, or tears for the current situation. Whichever, this crystallised for me just what Za Krizen means for the people of Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj and Vrboska. 

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And there was going to be no getting past the police on land...  

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... or by sea.  

But what would happen when the Jelsa procession came back in the morning? Surely the crowds would gather then? To give some perspective, this is how Jelsa Za Krizen 2019 finished. 

The most joyful time of the year in Jelsa for me, and the energy and joy in the cafes afterwards among the pilgrims after their 9-hour experience through the night is truly magical.  

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Fast forward to 2020, and the socially distanced Jelsani awaiting the return of their procession. I was absolutely stunned. And absolutely proud.  

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Don Stanko and just a handful of others awaited.  

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Another powerful photo memory of the 2020 procession. 

You can see the arrival of the cross in this video of my footage which has been edited by Miranda Milicic Bradbury, and includes some quite stunning footage as the procession then proceeded to St John's Church. This was the undoubted highlight of the night.  

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The biggest social distancing violation of the entire procession, but something happening in every corner of Croatia. From a social distancing point of view, Za Krizen was no worse - and actually better - than what is currently happening all over Croatia. The other two points of debate mentioned above are a separate discussion, but there is absolutely no reason in my opinion why Za Krizen social distancing violations are even a discussion in Croatia at the moment. Would it be better if Za Krizen did not happen alongside all the other things going on at the moment in Croatia which are generating more serious violations? I bow to Professor Rudan and say yes. 

But Croatia is not Wuhan, and that is a decision that the Croatian authorities, but also some Croatian people, have taken through their own individual acts of social distancing violation.  

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My story is coming to an end. St John's Square. 

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Jelsa's main square five minutes after the procession had arrived.  

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And a view from the riva.  

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Just one early morning, socially distanced conversation to break the silence.  

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Early morning empty tranquillity that I have come to cherish during my time here.  

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And the final photo for the final police action in this outstandingly conducted operation - disinfecting their boat. 

My thanks and respect to all those who made Za Krizen 2020 a success in very challenging circumstances. 

I hope that this account brings more clarity to the discussion, as well as more information and photos for the many who hold Za Krizen so dear. 

You can see more of TCN's Za Krizen coverage, including videos of previous procession, in our dedicated section

 

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