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No matter if it rains or freezer, carnival is inevitable, and so is the afterwards penance...
Dalmatian people have honoured this rule for centuries, even millenials, ever since the ancient Illyrians, their grandfathers to these days. Since the ancient times, people have dressed up with scary masks to chase away the evil spirits of the hungry winters and prepare everything for the fruitful spring. These customs were followed by the Romans at their festival of Saturnalia, held each year between December 17th and 23rd, when they would turn the world upside down by making landlords serve their slaves, excessing in their feasts and even gambling.
Then Januaria followed, time for men to mask into women and women into animals. The Compitalia were marked with dolls hung onto buildings as a substitute for human sacrifice to Gods. February festival, Lupercalia, made men wear lamb skin and run around the village pushing passers by in complete trans. Gods have changed but customs of masking into somebody else stayed unchanged, calling it carnival among other historical names.
- Church has always stayed undecided, judging the excessiveness on one side and seeing it as a balance to the christian tradition in short time period. This tolerated and controlled disorder does not damage the ruling order but actually affirms it - claims ethno theaterist dr Ivan Lozica.
Carnival was always time-limited in the history of people, lasting from Three Kings to its peak on Shrove Tuesday. On the next day, the Clean Wednesday, masks would be put aside and the lent would begin. Every village in Dalmatia would have its Pust and its burning for all bad things that happened in the community.
Pag, Olib and KaštelaThe city of Pag would have a gathering of masked village people on Sunday before Ash Wednesday, dancing in circles at their city square. The end of carnival was marked with sad marching, leading "Marko" to the bridge with the sounds of mourning songs, where they would burn him and toss into the sea.
The island Olib had a different tradition with a custom of organizing a masked weeding ceremony lasting until the morning, with men playing all the parts. Every Shrove Tuesday would gather an "army" of people carrying a straw doll and passing through streets. The judgment of the Pust was held in front of the church, hanging the doll and shooting it with a hunting rifle, all followed with a celebration until morning.
Kaštela is famous for its carnivals, dances were organized at the associations and houses, with the burning at the main city street. Bepa Kandije Kaštel Stari and family Šantić Štafilić. Music for dancing was played byStipe Vuletin Meto.
Musicians would dress up as widowers, streets were filled with dead animals, bells, people with pots on their heads visiting every house and celebrating. Pust was made Jozo Carev Keva from Gomilica andGoran Smojver, while the organizers were called the Embassy.
Bako in ImotskiPeople from Imotski had their own special carnival as well, organizing celebrations of Bacchus, the Roman God of wine, joy and food. Bacchus is a living human with red nose, long beard, with a red face and a big hat on the head. He is being pulled in a richly embelished chariot by the locals.
Barrel filled with wine is in front of him and the locals carry sticks that reach to people's windows with a bag to toss in money. They did not wear masks but would paint their faces with coal, if not other colors, passing through the villages, singing and ending the march with a joyful dinner.
Cetina carnival- Many songs are known in the Cetina region during the carnival celebrations, and each village again has its own tradition.
Locals are dressed as old people, with rugged clothing, bells around their waists and many other accessories.
The procession is ended with a comedy performance and throwing ashes on women, as an ancient sign of affection.
- Whether it rains of freezes, carnival must be held - a rule especially important for people from Neorić and Sutina with carnival tradition lasting for over three centuries.
Young men preparing for marriage carry a flag and a poplar tree in front of the host's house, which is to be decorated by the girl choosen for marriage.
Dubrovnik and PelješacThe region of Dubrovnik has a carnival so important to people that it used to be a part of the offical documents of the Republic of Dubrovnik. Sometimes, the celebrations were forbidden because of the extreme excessiveness, much to the joy of the famous comedy writer Marin Držić. The celebrations would end with burning the Pust and even his wife.
Putnikovići, a small village on Pelješac, has the so-called White Carnival, as a memory to a local legend stating that a young man was taken away by an army and when he got home during Carnival with a mask on his face, he managed to find his fiance. Their wedding ritual dances also go around the village and end with everybody dancing polka.