Travel

Za Krizen 2021 Tonight on Hvar: Live Streaming from Jelsa

By 1 April 2021

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.

 

 

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