The Croatian Calendar, Month to Month Festivities and Traditions, Pt 3 of 4 (Summer)
Part 3 of 4 - Summer
Welcome to Summer in Dalmatia - the closest thing to paradise on earth! Here, tourism is a major source of income for this Mediterranean - Middle European country. Summer is both heaven and hell, because there is work, madness and no time to enjoy the absolutely sensational summers here. With a little luck, and some good organizing, the locals manage to go out and enjoy a few private moments in the sun or get to a cultural event or two.
This is a continuation of a series. The first two pieces covering Winter and Spring can be found at the following links listed below:
What to Expect in the Winter Months of Croatia
- The Croatian Calendar, Month to Month Festivities and Traditions, Part 1 of 4
The months of the year in European countries are differently experienced than in the United States or in the west. Croatia has a feast day each month and its foods and traditions to go along with those holidays. Each year is like a merry-go-round!
What to Expect in the Spring months of Croatia
- The Croatian Calendar, Month to Month Festivities and Traditions Part 2 of 4
Featuring the Spring months, Croatians prepare for Easter by cutting back on foods, sweets and coffee, and braiding palm branches. Easter Sunday is a feast. Perhaps the most important Christian festival, it also marks the beginning of tourist season.
Pine trees by the sea
Summer Months -
Third Quarter - Winter: July through September
- July - Srpanj - male. The name of the month Srpanj is for the word Srp - or Cut the wheat.
- August - Kolovoz - male. The word Kolovoz resembles wagon wheel, which was used to harvest the wheat.
- September - Rujan - male. The Rujan is a type of wild mushroom that sprouts in the northern part of Croatia during this month. In Dalmatia, it comes much later.
Who What Where Why When?
Summer in Dalmatia, and much of Croatia is "rush hour". There are visitors from all corners of the earth. Most come from Middle Europe, typically Germans, Austrians, Poles and Czechs. Russians have recently discovered Croatia and Russian speaking tour guides are in great demand. The next most popular group of tourists are from France, England and far away Australia. Many, if not most of the Australian travelers are of Croatian heritage, since a large number of Croatians left then-Yugoslavia after WWII. Many even have property here, divided up among tens of descendents.
Summer for the locals is usually not a quiet, relaxing time. With rampant unemployment here like many other parts of Europe, the majority of people take advantage of the possibilities and work as much as possible, with rarely a day off. Many more than 8 hours a day and some work under the table, though the labor laws strictly forbid it. For most Croatians, the expression "make hay while the sun shines" means - Summer - work hard, because Winter is long (and expensive)!
Split's Music Festival
July is just fun in the sun, concerts, night life, and do your own thing. You have choices like no other time of the year. It's like the whole world came here for awhile.
August 5th is a national holiday, and August 15th is Vela Gospa. That means that summer is going to wind down, because soon school begins and the weather will gradually get cooler, bit by bit.
September is Mala Gospa. This is St. Mary, the mother of Jesus' supposed birthday! It is not a holiday per se, but many go to mass, linger outside the door, chat with their friends and go out for lunch afterwards!
The nights have fireflies, the days have absolutely gorgeous butterflies. There are combinations unheard of and unseen.
During the summer months, there are crickets day and night. The locals say that the crickets signal that it's warm enough to swim. No crickets - no swimming! Go figure. One day in the autumn, they stop singing. It's just one of those things.
Cultural Re-enactments, concerts and festivals
Seasons within the Season
June, which is considered shoulder season can be quite warm, but it can also be wet and rainy with high humidity. Summer's warmth actually starts in late spring with the blessing of the water during the Saint Anthony festival (see Part 2 of this series for more info). June has rain, heat, humidity, and the sea slowly but surely heats up to a very temperate 24 degrees Celsius. People from northern countries find this weather very appealing, and it's not unusual to see people from Poland and Czech Republic swimming in early June.
High season typically begins on July 15 when the weather stabilizes and lasts through August 15, when the Ascension is celebrated (Vele Gospa - or Great Lady, referring to the Madonna). The Italians call this day Fešta Augusta - which can mean the Festival of August or simply The Great Fešta! One day in the first week of August it's "full house" in the town where I live. That means backpackers in the park - because all the rooms in the hotel, private accommodations and everything else is BOOKED SOLID! ! !
Dry heat, crowds, festivals, culture, concerts, sidewalk stands and children selling seashell creations are common here. The number of boats on the Riva is staggering. Triple parked, yachts from all over the world from famous individuals are lined up and anchored in all directions. It's a magical, unbelievable time. Warm summer nights strolling on the seaside walkway, sipping cappuccinos or nibbling on ice cream is all part of the magic, with constant commutes on the car ferry from island to mainland several times a day.
Summer is the most heralded of all seasons here, where the majority of Europeans come to party, relax, or forget the hustle-bustle. Since the Croatian standard of living is somewhat less than the overall European standard, almost anyone can budget a Croatian holiday into their lives, and many do.
Summer Fruits and Veggies
Lots of fruit are ripened during the summer, too much to eat. The traditional Dalmatian farmer often had fruit trees for his family to live off of. Wise homemakers cook and freeze or can the seasonal fruit, which will be less costly than buying them off-season. Selection at the grocery store, depending upon the location, can be sketchy at best. This is not America. No!
Summer fruits include
- blackberries (kupina)
- green beans
- How to Make Homemade Fruit Marmalade from Scratch - a Basic Recipe with Variations
How to make home made marmalade? It is so easy. With this tried and true home recipe, you can cook ripe fruit with a little water, make it into a puree and then cook with sugar for fantastic color,flavor and taste - nothing beats homemade.
After School Starts
In Croatia, the first Monday of September (Rujan) is usually the first day of school but it can be decided on a county by county basis. For example, in 2011 there was a major heat wave so the Split-Dalmatian County decided to wait a week longer and shorten the winter holidays to two weeks instead of three. It was just too hot and miserable for students to start school - let them swim and enjoy while they can, they reasoned. It turned out to be a good thing for the majority of students, parents and tourists who extended their vacations a bit longer.
September is usually the beginning of the second shoulder season, which is also very warm, temperate and less crowded. Pensioners from all over Europe come to Croatia, as well as students. Thrifty overseas visitors wisely come to Croatia in September to visit national parks, take wine tours and bike excursions, visit museums - the list is endless. The prices and availability are better now than in high season.
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