Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.
The Croatian model, Faretta Radić, is the new face for one of the most famous desingers in the world. The 20 year-old Trogir born model has just completed shooting for the 2018 Spring/Summer collection for Ralph Lauren.
In fact, this isn’t the first time that this Croatian beauty has appeared draped in the latest Ralph Lauren designs as she also modelled for the 2017 Fall collection, quite clearly she has the look that suits this American fashion designer.
Radić is ranked as one of the top 50 models in the world and has posed for the covers of Vogue and Harper’s Bazar, as well as hitting the catwalk for Tommy Hilfiger, Versace and Burberry.
“Oh, we can’t meet on Friday because it is a public holiday,” I commented to my colleague. She looked at me in puzzlement. “Which Friday are you talking about,” she replied. “This coming Friday, its Easter and therefore must be a holiday,” I said. “Ah, well, no it isn’t actually a holiday, although maybe it should be,” was her response.
Good Friday (or Big Friday) isn’t a holiday in Croatia, I keep forgetting that. In Croatia, which is a deeply religious country, one of surely the most important days in the Catholic calendar isn’t a public holiday. Whereas in Great Britain, which to be fair is nowhere near as religious, both Friday, or Good Friday and Easter Monday are holidays for the Easter period. Seems rather strange to me. If you just think about the literal meaning of “holiday” (at least in English) it comes from the longer phrase “holy day.” That is why Sunday is of course a holiday. So why is one of the most important holy days in Croatia not a holy day…sorry holiday.
Maybe it would have more sympathy if the church took to the streets to protest about this Good Friday actually being a public holiday rather than complaining about a certain Turkish convention. I am often asked by foreigners why there are so many public holidays in Croatia. Do you know how many there are in total? The answer is in fact 13. And that includes Christmas and New Year’s Day, so 11 other ones. Do you know how many there are every year in Germany? 13. And in France? 11. And in the UK? 8…only 8.
However, these figures can be slightly misleading. Why? Because in Croatia, as in Italy, the day that a public holiday falls on is not transferable. Meaning that if, for example, Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day falls on a weekend, as it does this year, that holiday isn’t transferred to the day before or the day after. This is not the case in the UK. If a public holiday lands on the weekend it is then transferred to either the Monday or the Friday. So even though the UK only has eight public holidays a year, one of the lowest in the world, it actually really has eight holidays. Whereas Croatia this year in fact only has 11 as opposed to 13. OK, I know it is still more than the UK (and even if there is no Good Friday) but it at least draws the numbers much closer.
And it is still nowhere near the country with the most public holidays, not even close. The absolute winner is Cambodia, with an amazing 28 public holidays every year. Just think about that, that’s over two public holidays every bloody month, or in other words you work for 11 months and have a month off. Before you all pack your suitcases and buy single tickets to Phnom Penh the vast majority are connected to Buddhism, so you’re probably going to have to convert religions. Cambodia is followed by Sri Lanka with 25 days off. But again many of these are around Hinduism. If you are looking closer to home you might want to try Scandinavia. Finland is the leader in Europe with a generous 15 free days. And they are closely followed by Sweden with 13.
So in the grand scheme of things Croatia isn’t the laziest country in the world, or even in Europe, if you just take the amount of public holidays into account. The one thing that the EU and probably most of the rest of the world won’t understand (apart from Cambodia!) is this Croatian tradition of connecting days. Quite quickly the 13 days turns into Cambodian style numbers.
“It’s a holiday on Thursday so we’ll have a half day on Wednesday to prepare and there doesn’t seem much point in coming in on Friday.” How many times have you heard that sentence? Probably more if you work for a state institution. I even heard this once, “The absolute best day for a public holiday is Thursday, guaranteed long weekend.” In fact, this particular person had made almost a scientific survey out of the best days for holidays to fall on and how it could be possible to connect them to artificially create a long weekend. He had probably spent at least a week’s work just figuring out the pros and cons of holiday timings. If only he had been so effective and efficient with his actual government job. And yet, and I repeat, with all these holidays, real or imagined, still one of the leading holy days isn’t actually a free day. Strange but true.
The Bishop of Dubrovnik, Mate Uzinic, headed the Good Friday ceremony through the streets of the Old City in the largest Christian holiday, Easter.
The procession, led by a relic of Christ on the Cross, continued through the streets of the city and kept the Easter tradition in Dubrovnik.
Check out the photo gallery by Tonci Plazibat
The share of the Croatian GDP connected to travel and tourism increased in 2017 on the previous year by 0.7 percent to 19.6 percent, according to data released by the Croatian National Bank.
“The tourism revenues in 2017 are the best indicator of how much Croatian tourism has progressed,” commented the Minister of Tourism, Gari Cappelli, on the news that the National Bank had stated that income from tourism reached 9.5 billion Euros in 2017.
Foreign tourist spent 9.5 billion Euros in Croatia in 2017, almost 860 million more than in 2016. In total 16.5 million tourists visited Croatia last year and achieved 90 million overnight stays.
"Tourism, along with a favourable external environment and the progress of structural reforms, is one of the main generators of the growth of the Croatian economy," added the minister.
In spite of new European Union regulations for fairer prices for delivering goods inside the EU it appears that Croatia would have benefited more with an agreement with China. At the region’s largest congress on online shopping “Ecommerce Day 2018” the Croatian MEP, Biljana Borzan, commented that “95 percent of all the packages delivered to Croatia come from China.”
According to figures from last year deliveries directly from China to Croatia reached a peak, up 17 percent on 2016. In the fourth quarter of 2017 570,000 packages were delivered, and data shows that 542,000 came from China.
"I have been demanding that it is legally regulated because EU traders are discriminated against. They have to provide everything that Chinese merchants do not need, as well as offering a higher level of protection and customer confidence," commented Borzan.
Easter, one of the most important religious holidays of the year, is almost upon us and Dubrovnik is getting into the festive spirit.
Apart from the ancient Old City of Dubrovnik Easter decorations have also been installed in the Bay of Lapad and quite clearly young and old are enjoying the opportunity to have a photo with a giant Easter Bunny or a cute chick.
Check out this photo gallery from Tonci Plazibat
Zagreb Airport will be closed for two months from the 4th of April, but before you start cancelling flights the airport will work normally during the day.
Due to works on the runways and landing paths the Franjo Tuđman Airport will be closed from midnight on the 4th of April. It is believed that these works will last for two months and will be carried out at night after all the regular traffic for the day has either landed and departed.
The airport has stated that these works will in no way affect the regular flow of planes and the works couldn't have been carried out during the slower winter months as the temperatures were too cold for the concrete and either materials to function correctly.
One of the most important dates on the calendar in Dubrovnik is Easter. It is a time to respect the traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation for centuries.
Easter is a time that symbolises the birth of nature, a time when plants start to bud, when trees show their blossom, and it is a time for new life. This new life brought the custom of giving eggs and in Dubrovnik this custom has kept its original roots. Hand painted eggs are still given to loved ones at this time of year. Care and attention is paid to every small detail. These eggs are like little masterpieces. Often the eggs carry messages such as “I give my heart to you” or “Bless you at Easter”.
On Palm Sunday it is traditional to take plaited palm leaves to church. This particular custom is specific to Dalmatia and you often see plaited palm leaves decorating houses. Still today families teach their children the art of weaving the palm leaves. A special cake is also prepared at this time the Pinca. This cake is a like a sweet bread and rather plain.
Guests to the city at Easter will be delighted with the ancient customs that are still alive today. The feeling of a birth of a new life can be sensed everywhere. Warmer days are on the way and the city awakes from the winter slumber. Easter Sunday morning in the old city is the time when you’ll see just how much this day means to Dubrovnik.
Easter in Dubrovnik – respecting customs and a new beginning