Rijeka, Croatia. February 7, 2016
Some of you may recall my post on Karneval (English: Carnival) two years ago. It was my first time marching in the parade in Rijeka with Milos as we marched with the group representing his hometown of Crikvenica, Croatia. ( CLICK HERE to check out that past article.)
(We were scheduled to march in last year’s parade as well, but I started to get sick the day before and woke up the morning of Karneval with a terrible fever, so we ended up staying home and catching part of the parade on television.)
Rijeka’s Carnival is the third largest in the world; Rio de Janeiro being the biggest, and Venice coming in at number two.
(Please do click on that link above to read more of the history of the event!)
To basically sum it up, Carnival takes place on the last Sunday before the period of Lent in the Catholic calendar. It’s a big giant festival complete with parades, costumes, revelry, food, and drink. People celebrate all day into the late hours of the night.
This year’s parade in Rijeka had 110 groups marching in it, representing folks from all over Croatia and several other countries. How does it work? Each group chooses a theme and creates costumes on that theme. Many have floats as well. In a way, it reminds me of the New Year’s Day Mummer’s Parade in Philly – lots of crazy costumes and lots of crazy drunk people. Only for this parade, the onlookers are often in costumes as well – not just the folks marching in the parade.
Our theme for Crikvenica was “The Phoenix;” the flaming mythical bird that rises out of its own ashes. Being a performer most of my life, I admit to enjoying the thrill of marching and dancing in the parade. The forecast of rain had kept some folks away, but there were still large crowds lining the streets along the route. Before and after marching in the parade, part of the fun was also walking around to observe the cool costumes of all the other groups. There are people of all ages, shapes, and sizes getting involved in the celebration.
Different groups organize in different ways, but with our group, we each gave the equivalent of $35 dollars, and in exchange we got a finished costume, bus transportation to and from Rijeka, and a meal voucher.
The parade ended with the Halubajski zvončari , as per usual tradition. Overall, it was a great day – the bus to head back to Crikvenica left Rijeka at 8pm, and we were glad to head back to get some rest and relaxation.
Here are some pics from Crikvenica’s Phoenix theme, and a few from the other groups as well.
And from some of the other groups….