Christmas, Easter, New Year…yes they are all important and rightly have their place on the Dubrovnik calendar. However, there is one day in Dubrovnik that puts all these in the shadow, the Day of St. Blaise. To start to explain the significance of St. Blaise for Dubrovnik and its citizens would…well let’s just say that you could fill a novel. Here is a brief story on why the people of Dubrovnik love their patron saint. You will often hear that St. Blaise, or St. Vlaho as he is locally known, is known as the protector of Dubrovnik, there is a reason behind that.
The year was 971 and Venetian war galleons had dropped anchor near Dubrovnik and requested to stock up their ships with water and supplies. It looked harmless but was the cover for a cunning plan to capture the city. The Venetians used the opportunity to spy on the city’s defences for an upcoming attack. This is where the hero of the story, St. Blaise, enters. Realising the Venetians plan St. Blaise warned the priests of St. Stephens Church who rang their bells to alert the city of the attack. The plan, almost a Trojan Horse style plan, had failed, Dubrovnik was a still a free independent state. Since that time the day of St. Blaise, the 3rd of February, has been marked in Dubrovnik, to remember the saint who saved the city.
To be in Dubrovnik for the Day of St. Blaise is indeed an honour. It is a time that Dubrovnik and its citizens treasure traditions and join together in a spirit of celebration. Banners, flags, sacral decorations and costumes fill the Old City, Dubrovnik pulls out all the stops when the Day of St. Blaise come around. It is a time that you can feel the true soul of the city. Once you have experienced on the Day of St. Blaise you will never look at Dubrovnik with the same eyes ever again. Traditional meals are served and whole families make the pilgrimage to the Stradun in the heart of the Old City dressed in their “Sunday best,” this is a time to show respect to Dubrovnik’s protector.
Although it is not a national state holiday it certainly is a holiday in Dubrovnik, and rightly so. It is truly a privilege to be in Dubrovnik on the 3rd of February, away from the summer sunshine, and yet bathed in a warm glow.