Kvarner newsletter / no 49

Carnival in Selce
Traditional customs deeply intertwined with everyday life

For almost a century and a half, Kvarner's tourist resort of Selce summons the end of winter with a series of carnival events that perfectly combine the traditions and modern way of life of local people. Over the years, the traditional customs here have survived in their original form, offering visitors an insight into local customs, and also a chance to have a great time and learn something more about the year that has already begun.

The carnival in Selce, which this year takes place for the 145th time, is based on some original traditions rather different from those in neighbouring places, which is why this carnival is particularly interesting for visitors. On the last three Thursdays before Ash Wednesday, majorettes and musicians parade through the town announcing some traditional customs. Also interesting is an event that takes place three Wednesdays before that: at night, single young men "steal" things from the courtyards of young unmarried girls and take them to the local market, where the girls' fathers are supposed to take them back. In the past, young men used to be modest and take with them small things such as clothes from the courtyard or something like that, but today it can even happen that in the morning there is an entire boat taken from the sea on the market, which makes this event very funny and interesting.
On Monday, young men visit the girls and dance with the mother of the girl they like to the sounds of accordion.
A special legend has to do with the tradition of making the Pust carnival puppet, which will be blamed for everything that went wrong in the last year. According to the rules, if the puppet is stolen before being presented to the public, there should be no carnival in the next seven years.
Special events are connected to the Shrove Tuesday (this year 21 February), the last day of the carnival. A procession goes to the market square where local women thresh straw, burn it and dance two traditional dances. Particular attention is given to the direction which the smoke of the burning straw takes. Should the smoke blow towards the sea, it will be a good year for fishing, and if it blows inland, it will be a fertile year on land. In the end, people dance the local circle dance called Selačko kolo. Finally, the judgement is passed on the Mesopust, after which this figure is set on fire and thrown into the sea.
Visitors to Selce and the entire region will have the chance to enjoy an interesting programme, which will include visits to this traditional event, to other places of the Crikvenica Riviera, and to the Rijeka Carnival.