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Joy, Celebration and Kolenda: There’s No Place Like Dubrovnik on Christmas Eve

Visiting Stradun on the morning before Christmas has always been a dear tradition among the people of Dubrovnik and today, after not being able to enjoy it last year, it feels even more special. From the early morning, the melodies of holiday carols echoed in our streets, accompanied by the sounds of our trombonists, who ‘announced’ the festive atmosphere with traditional shots from their trombones. Merry carollers, young and those a bit older, wished everyone a very merry Christmas with traditional Christmas songs.

Many of our fellow citizens and Dubrovnik guests took this opportunity to put on their best attire, get together with their dear ones, mingle around town, and soak in the omnipresent Christmas spirit. It was a particular pleasure to see Dubrovnik’s youth coming to the City to enjoy, appreciate and honour this long tradition. The members of the Linđo Folklore Ensemble, Libertas Choir and City Music sang the traditional Dubrovnik carol ‘kolenda’ in front of the City Hall, and being able to hear it live again brought back that distinctive warmth around the heart to everybody present.

On this particular day, it is custom that many children get together with their friends in the afternoon hours and go from door to door singing the Dubrovnik kolenda. After they finish singing the host traditionally gifts them with oranges, candy, or small change money thanking them for bringing the joy of Christmas to their home and rewarding their efforts. This tradition of singing kolenda goes long back in history. The oldest written traces of it can be found within the Statute of the Republic of Dubrovnik from 1272, making little carollers’ efforts today even more special.

Photo: Zvonimir Pandža