Socially Distanced Za Krizen 2020 WILL Happen: Livestream on TCN

Total Croatia News

za-krizen-2020 (1).jpg

April 8, 2020 – 500 years of UNESCO tradition WILL continue on Hvar tomorrow night but Za Krizen 2020 will be a socially distanced procession in the corona era – and partially available on livestream on TCN from 21:30 tomorrow night.  

This is an incredibly hard article to write, as I need to get every word right or I could get in trouble. There is a LOT unsaid behind this article, which perhaps will be left unsaid. My understanding is that the final decision on the religious procession Za Krizen 2020 reached the desk of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. And a decision has been taken – Za Krizen 2020 WILL go ahead tomorrow night at 22:00 – as it has every year for about 500 years on Maundy Thursday – albeit with a radically different look in this socially-distanced corona era.  

za-krizen-2020 (1).jpg

The main square of Jelsa tonight, which traditionally was the focal point of the procession, which has survived occupation by the Italian fascists in 1943, took place in the Sinai Desert in a refugee camp in Egypt in 1944, and took place in the godless Socialist years of Tito. You can learn more about that, and the procession in a previous article on TCN – ‘Za Krizen’ on Hvar Overcame Fascists, Tito, Sinai Desert, But Will It Beat Corona? 


This is how Za Krizen looks in a normal year – the start of the Jelsa procession, one of six simultaneous processions which leave from Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj and Vrboska. 

Clearly such a procession is NOT possible in the current climate. And this is NOT what Za Krizen 2020 will look like. 

za-krizen-2020 (4).jpg

Jelsa tonight, as beautiful – and as empty – as I have ever seen it. 

The sound of the church bells. They will fall silent tomorrow night until Sunday, as per the Holy Week tradition in Jelsa. 

The discussion on whether or not to allow the procession to take place in some format has reached the very top echelons of the Croatian government. Health Minister Vili Beros, himself from Jelsa, stated that he was in favour of delaying the procession until September last week

Clearly the idea of hundreds of people taking part was out of the question. Discussions ensued, and one suggestion was that each procession would be reduced to just five people – the crossbearer and four acolytes, a far cry from the 20 or so acolytes and the hundreds or thousands of pilgrims who walk through the night.  

za-krizen-2020 (3).jpg

(A cross burns brightly outside the home of the Jelsa crossbearer, as per tradition)

My understanding is that the crossbearers asked for more acolytes to help them through the long night, and a decision was taken which involved PM Plenkovic (himself a Hvar man, who took part in Za Krizen back in 2017, as reported by TCN).

The final decision is that each procession will be allowed 15 participants (slightly more than the 12 allowed by the Italians in 1943), with five more singers following by car. Social distancing rules will be enforced. 

And – and this will be VERY important to the millions of devout self-isolating Croatian Catholics here and in the diaspora – parts of Za Krizen 2020 will be available live from Jelsa, on the TCN Facebook page from 21:30 tomorrow night. At an incredibly important time of year for Croatians – Easter – the chance to see this religious tradition live from Hvar will no doubt give fortitude to many. 

If all goes well, TCN will have a live feed from both the Jelsa church and the Jelsa main square from 21:30 tomorrow night until 08:00 on the morning of Good Friday. You can like the TCN Facebook page here, where the feed will appear. 

I called the head of the Jelsa Civil Protection Headquarters today, and thereafter the head of Hvar police. Very productive discussions, in which I explained my socially distanced media coverage plans for tomorrow night. Both seemed fine but suggested that I request clearance from Jelsa Mayor Niksa Peronja. Mayor Peronja has just replied that I have clearance to report, so I will do the best I can to capture as much as I can of this tradition which means so much to the people of Hvar. 

Last year, I managed to capture all six processions through the night

I don’t expect that level of access this year, but I will report back with the best I can do from a safe distance. 

We will post the livestream link on TCN FB tomorrow night at 21:00

And if you are wondering why Za Krizen 2020 is such a big deal, this is one of my favourite videos ever about Hvar traditions, which explains it all from the point of view of a crossbearer. 


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment