Advent in Jelsa: How Many Stars for Croatia’s Most Famous Xmas Decorations?

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As Croatia gears up for Christmas with the opening of Advent in Zagreb, Advent in Split and a host of other festive fairs all over the country, anticipation is rising in Jelsa on the one great unanswered question of 2016 – how many stars will Jelsa’s decorations on the main square have this year?

Jelsa’s Christmas decorations are always pretty, but do not attract any special attention, but last year things were a little different, after a lunchtime blog over a cold one pivoted Jelsa’s Christmas decorations into the national spotlight, making them not only the best known decorations in all Croatia but also the most talked about topic of the day (or month, if you were in Jelsa at the time). And the talk of Jelsa’s Christmas decorations did not finish there, but they were the main topic of the town’s Carnival sketch a couple of months later. 

It all started when I innocently photographed some chap taking down the original five-pointed star one lunchtime. Apparently, rather than celebrating Christmas, it was instead celebrating Communism. The story hit the national media very quickly, and discussion raged all over the town and beyond, with national newspapers scrambling to get on ferries to elicit the thoughts of Jelsa residents on what was their favourite shaped star. It was all a little surreal. Sales in Heineken jumped, with supporters of the star keen to be seen with the famous red star logo. A Star of Bethlehem took centre stage instead, and then after some political debate and compromise, a deal was reached, and the main square welcomed visitors with not one, but two stars. It was enthralling stuff, and never had I wanted a seat on The Bench so badly. Apart from the grandstand view, can you imagine the quality conversation?

For me personally, the story has become part of my CV. When presenting the Total Project to a potential new cliet, some are not aware of our brand.

“Did you hear about the Jelsa star last Christmas?” I ask in that case.

“Yes of course. Amazing story.”

And when they hear it all started on our little blog, the impression of our national reach is made. 

The Christmas decorations have yet to go up in Jelsa, one of the things I truly love about living here – so uncommercial, and it was hilarious to watch my kids faces in the UK last week – Daddy why do you English have Chrstmas EVERYWHERE in November, it is stupid. 

But those Christmas decorations are coming. The question is – how many stars will there be this year, and much more importantly, which shape?


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