Carnival Traditions in Croatia
During February, it is common to have different festivities related to Carnival in Croatia. Carnival is taken quite seriously and the week before Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday) every town with carnival celebrations will host festive events such as live concerts, shows and pageants with masked participants. Participants are mostly locals who often mock current political situations and events that marked previous year with their masks. The peak of carnival is on Shrove Tuesday when locals condemn the creature responsible for all the unpleasant events that took place in the previous year. This creature is called Fašnik in Northern Croatia, Krnjo in Dalmatia and Pust in Primorje.
One of the most famous Carnival towns is Samobor, locally called Fašnik which has had Carnival tradition for more than 190 years.
In Dalmatia, the Carnival celebrations are quite vivid in smaller towns inland and on islands where locals prepare for months for Carnival. They make their own costumes and have a big party on Shrove Tuesday. Carnival in Split is also a very well-known event where the Carnival King takes the town keys and rules the city until Ash Wednesday.
There are quite interesting Carnivals in Rijeka, Opatija and the Kastav region where one can see the loud pageant of bell ringers who are part of UNESCO intangible heritage list. The bell ringers go around throughout villages in the Kastav area and form concentric circles and ring the bells attached around their waist. They usually have some type of frightening animal shaped headgear or masks, while some participants have hats decorated with flowers. With their ringing, they are celebrating the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring.
The Carnival traditions in Europe originate from pre-Christian traditions where people celebrated the waking of nature. This custom was spread throughout Christian Europe and has remained until today. It has always been the time of the year when people put on their masks and have a good party before the pre-Easter period.
All the Carnival traditions include sweet food like traditional “krafne” (donuts) or “fritule” (donut like pastry common in Croatia).