Easter is one of the most inspiring times to visit Dalmatia. Local people slowly emerge from the winter hibernation, ready for one more bumper tourist season, many airlines begin their seasonal schedules and extended families come together to celebrate one of the most important Catholic feasts of all.
As one might expect, Easter is also a time of tradition. A week before Easter Sunday, palm branches woven into braids and olive branches are taken to be blessed at Palm Sunday mass. According to tradition, girls also wash their faces in water infused with flower petals, a symbol of rebirth which keeps young ladies fresh in mind as well as appearance.
Good Friday is a day of abstinence and is characterised by a curious sound – silence. For the chiming of church bells stops from the evening of Maundy Thursday until Easter Sunday, a curious non-sound for regular visitors to Dalmatia. But do not worry, the enthusiastic peeling of the bells on Easter Sunday morning will more than make up for it!
Good Friday is marked by a traditional meal of fish, with dried cod, known locally as 'bakalar', the speciality. Soaked in water for 24 hours and more, the cod is cooked with garlic and potatoes, producing a distinctive taste which has been enjoyed for generations in Dalmatia.
Eggs play a major role as well, but not the chocolate variety, one of the most touching parts of the Dalmatian Easter experience. Bees wax is melted, after which various motifs and messages are carefully applied to the hard-boiled eggs, with the skins of red onions boiled for a time to give a strong colour. These, along with traditional Easter bread called 'sirnica' are trademark sights on Easter dining tables, along with fritule, sweet dough balls. And while fish might be on the menu for Good Friday, Easter Sunday is all about lamb.
The religious aspect of Easter is far from forgotten, and there are numerous processions around Dubrovnik, with the main one in the city centre taking place on Friday evening. And for the perfect introduction to Easter, do not miss midnight mass, a real time of joy.
Accompanying the Easter celebrations is the annual Dubrovnik Easter Fair, when the old town comes alive with stalls selling typical Easter arts and crafts. All that remains is to teach you two words with which you can greet everyone you meet: Sretan Uskrs! Happy Easter!