Rabska fjera is the oldest and largest medieval summer festival in Croatia. It is based on a tradition that began on July 21, 1364, when the Rab City Council decided to pay tribute to King Louis the Great, who liberated Rab from Venetian rule. In the past, Fjera lasted 14 days, when the population of the island celebrated the powers of St. Christopher, who is credited with saving the city from destruction, and Fjera is also held in his honor.
Dates of the Rabska Fjera
The Rabska Fjera is held every year from July 25 to 27 (these days are also the days of St. James, St. Anne and St. Christopher).
During the Fair, the whole city returns to the past. Small craft shops and craft workshops take to the streets of the city, offering visitors a unique opportunity to see on the spot how a belt for trousers or a fragrant pomade is made in the traditional way, or decorate hair with tiny flowers, just like in the Middle Ages. The air spreads the smell of freshly fried rolls, while the whole fishing village springs up on the beach. The streets resound with song and music as passers-by are offered tuna, fritters, cheese and wine.
The last day of the Rab Fair, July 27, is also the day of the patron saint of the town of Rab, St. Christopher. The Knights’ Games of the Association of Rab Crossbowmen are held on that day. The tradition of knight games of Rab crossbowmen was revived in 1995, with the founding of the Association of Rab crossbowmen (the first knight games were held in 1364).
Along with knightly games, costumes from the Middle Ages were also returned. The Games are held several times a year on St. Christopher in Rab on May 9 (Rab City Day), May 30 (Croatian Statehood Day), July 27 (St. Christopher’s Day – patron saint of the city of Rab – national celebration and Rab crossbowmen’s tournament) and August 15 (holiday Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – a national celebration and tournament of Rab crossbowmen).
How important is Rabska Fjera?
How important the Fair is for preserving the cultural heritage and traditions of the island of Rab is best illustrated by a quote from the foreword by academician Slobodan Novak in the catalog of the Rab Fair published in 2006, on the fifth anniversary of its holding, in which he says: “and today it is especially not – just an attractive spectacle…
It is, on the contrary, just a dignified ceremony, as it was inaugurated six and a half centuries ago. And it is not a great parade in vain, but truly an expression of the desire to penetrate, even if only by intuition, into the darkness of past centuries where the shadows of our ancestors are still recognizable; to see one’s own roots, to affirm and strengthen one’s identity.
To be reminded and freed/restrained by sophisticated modern technologies, to remind ourselves of the beauty of handwork, and the skill of fingers, of blisters instead of gloves, of the fateful connection with nature, with land and sea; to the spiritual and material creativity of our ancestors, to their individual innocuous creativity, which the time of teamwork, conveyor belts, and machine confection somewhat forgets. ”