Discover the Rich Easter Traditions and Customs

Are you planning a trip to our beautiful island this Easter? If so, you're in for a real treat. 

Easter traditions are a part of the Brač lifestyle. Along with celebrating Easter, many customs have developed such as the Easter vigil, colouring Easter eggs, attending Easter Mass, and singing Easter songs.

Prior to Easter is the time of Lent, during which Christians prepare for the celebration of Easter through prayer, fasting and performing good deeds.

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Easter on Brač is a time of colourful processions, traditional feasts, and unique customs. In this post, we'll take a closer look at some of the local Easter traditions on Brač, giving you a glimpse into the island's rich cultural heritage.

Eventful Fjere (Feasts) from Island Brač

Palm Sunday (Cvitnica)

The main Easter celebrations begin on Palm Sunday, which is celebrated on the Sunday before Easter when Jesus entered Jerusalem and the people welcomed him by waving palms and olive branches. It is the beginning of Holy Week.

Palm Sunday is known for the blessing of palm and olive branches. On Brač, the tradition that has mostly remained is the carrying of olive branches, considering the fact that the island has plenty of olive trees. The day before, the branches would be picked from the fields and brought home.

On Sunday, the whole family would go to mass, each carrying their own olive branch. The oldest member of the family, usually the grandfather, would carry the biggest bundle of branches and take them to his fields after the blessing. It was believed that the blessed branches would protect the fields from hail, drought, and other natural disasters. Additionally, other olive branches would be left in the home to protect the household from evil. One branch is also taken to the cemetery for the deceased.

Girls received palm branches decorated with flowers and ribbons as gifts from boys. In return, girls gave them garitule - sweet Easter bread in the form of braids with decorated Easter eggs as a gift.

Another tradition is washing the face with flower water. It was believed that it contributes to the health and beauty of the face. Different types of flowers, usually rose petals, would be added to the water, and children would wash their faces with it.

Holy Week (Vela šetemona)

During the Holy Triduum, from Thursday to Saturday, locals didn’t perform any heavier agricultural work in the fields. It was especially important to avoid anything sharp piercing the soil.

Church bells do not ring, and only boys mark the time of church celebrations with wooden rattles called škrgajke.

Sumartin, on Maundy Thursday, a Mass is served in honour of Jesus' Last Supper, and at that Mass, the characteristic guardians of Christ's tomb, also known as žudije, appear.

Žudije are Roman soldiers who guard Jesus' tomb until the moment of falling to the ground in awe of finding the tomb of Jesus Christ empty, after His resurrection.

On Good Friday, early in the morning, a candlelit procession is held with a large cross called Muka (torment). Fasting and abstinence from meat are obligatory, so only fish is eaten, mostly cod and salted sardines. There is also a custom in the local tradition of the benefits of drinking red wine. It is believed that you will get as much fresh blood as the red wine you consume that day.

The inhabitants of Sumartin set off at 6 am along one road towards the neighbouring settlement, while the inhabitants of Selca, at the same time but by a different road, set off towards Sumartin.

In the afternoon, the singing of Jesus' Passion resumes with the traditional kissing of the Cross.

On Holy Saturday is time to prepare food for Easter. Decorating Easter eggs is a must. Eggs are often coloured in natural dyes most commonly red dye obtained by boiling red onion skins and decorated with traditional symbols such as crosses, flowers, and animals. 

Along with eggs, there are traditional sweet Easter bread garitula and pinca or as some call it sirnica. Sweet and fragrant, pinca is an incredibly rich pastry made with yeasted dough consisting of flour, eggs, and butter, and it is usually shaped into a large round loaf. Each pinca is brushed with egg wash, and decorated with coarse sugar, and the top is traditionally incised with a cross symbol.

In the past, the blessing of food was done on Easter Sunday, but now it is more often done on Holy Saturday. Families prepare baskets filled with traditional Easter foods such as ham, eggs, bread, and wine. These baskets are then taken to the local church to be blessed by the priest.

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Easter Sunday (Uskrs)

On Easter Day, a special Mass is held to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Mass is typically followed by a festive meal with family and friends.

On Easter, people congratulated each other by saying: “Na dobro van došlo sveto Uskrsnuće!” (Welcome the Holy Resurrection) and the response is “I vami na spasenje!” (And to you for salvation).

Easter was celebrated for three days, with the first day usually reserved for family, while the following days involved visits to friends and relatives.

Kids enjoyed many games with Easter eggs, including egg tapping where the winner was the one whose egg remained undamaged, and often the eggs were shot from a distance with a metal coin.

Today Easter celebrations last two days and many old traditions are kept to this day.

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One of the novelties is the gastronomic Sirnica Fair (Smotra sirnica), which is held every year on Easter Monday in a different Brač town.

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