So we go from one saint to another. From one that saved a Republic to one who celebrates love. You could argue that they have that in common, they also have something else in common, something rather more morbid, they were both martyred.
And yes, Valentine was martyred on the 14th of February.
I have to say that the most important day on the calendar of the City passed extremely joyfully and serene this year. For certain the weather helped, for as everyone who lives here knows, the saint makes sure that his special day is free of rain, but this year it would seem that he pulled out all the stops and it felt more like May than early February.
Photo - Bozo Radic / CROPIX
I had the honour of attending the Candlemas evening this year and a very elegant evening it was.
“I guess this shows the power of Dubrovnik, which is to be fair is a small city,” commented one foreign guest to me. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Well just look how many Ministers, Deputy Prime Ministers and other decision makers there are in this room. Clearly it is important for them to be here,” he replied. And added “Can you imagine a city in France or the US with only just over 40,000 people having such an important turnout.”
He was, of course correct.
I haven’t been to this evening for years, but I am glad I did this year. One thing that always most impresses me about the whole festivities is the younger generations that respect the past and continue the traditions into the future. To see the procession with three and four generations all dressed in graceful national costumes is truly heart-warming.
How the past affects our future never ceases to amaze me, if you don’t know where you have been how do you know where you are going?
Your past does not define your future, but it certainly helps shape it, and the shape of Dubrovnik looks very healthy. Is there a city in the world whose patron saint is so worshipped? I am guessing, no.
As I watched the vivid colours and centuries-old traditions framed with perfect blue skies I thought what a perfect time of the year this is for tourists to visit the south of Croatia. And it is. For them to see a whole new face to Dubrovnik, one that is reserved for the locals. But then I stopped myself. Maybe it is better that we get our City back for a weekend. Although one tourist did comment to me “This could well be the best kept secret that Dubrovnik has.” I just have a feeling that if St. Blaise was celebrated in the middle of August it wouldn’t have the same atmosphere.
And this time of the year is always a double celebration in the Thomas household as my wife’s birthday falls a day after the patron saint’s day. “She almost shared her day with our protector as she was born a couple of minutes after midnight and the doctors couldn’t decide on which day to write on the birth certificate,” joked my mother-in-law.
And more by luck than judgement almost the whole family joined us for a party. Three generations on the Stradun and three generations in our living room the day after, almost a procession (without the banners) through our house. As half live in the capital it is rare that we all get together “en mass” and a mass it certainly was.
Almost fitting for a time of the year that the City comes together. Long live St. Blaise (and my wife).
Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to
About the author
Mark Thomas (aka Englez u Dubrovniku) is the editor of The Dubrovnik Times. He was born and educated in the UK and moved to live in Dubrovnik in 1998. He works across a whole range of media, from a daily radio show to TV and in print. Thomas is fluent in Croatian and this column is available in Croatia on the website – Dubrovnik Vjesnik