Easter in Hvar - religion, tradition and UNESCO
Hvar is truly a unique place to visit for its beauty and authentic experiences. This especially applies at Easter time, which offers experiences fundamentally attached to the traditions of the island. One such celebration, valued by UNESCO as the Cultural Heritage of Humanity, is over 400-years-old The 'Following the Cross' procession amongst villages of the island interior, which begins in the evening of Good Thursday and continues into the early morning hours of Good Friday. This unique event has long been an indelible part of the religious, social and cultural identity of Hvar island and its people.
Good Thursday is dedicated to Za križen (Following the Cross) procession, which takes place in the central part of the island. The mass is simultaneously held in the six parishes of Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirče, Vrbanj and Vrboska. The procession then follows a 25-kilometre course into the early morning hours of Good Friday. Because each of the six groups start from their respective churches and follow the course in a clockwise direction, the groups never meet. Each group is lead by a specially chosen cross-bearer who walks the course either barefoot or in socks. Other official members of the procession are dressed in white tunics. The origins of this unique procession are linked to a period of peasant revolt against Venetian governance when, according to the legend, a small cross began to bleed before a conflict. In over four centuries of celebration, the tradition has never been interrupted.
Another Easter tradition takes place in Hvar town in the afternoon of Good Friday called 'Through God's Graves'.
On Good Friday fraternities from St. Cross and St. Nicolas, one dressed in black tunics, the other in white, begin their procession in different churches. Later on, they come together at Pjaca, the old Venetian square in town centre, to sing the ancient melody Popule Meus in front of the St. Stephens Cathedral. This event takes place in the evening. During this time all activity in the centre of the town stands still to honour this ancient tradition. The procession is illuminated by candles and lanterns.
Easter is locally celebrated at churches of the town, followed by delicious lunch in the restaurants located at the promenade. Are you coming to join us?