August 6, 2020 – Residents of Poljana on Ugljan island celebrate the 25th anniversary of Day Of Croatian Liberation And Defenders
The day is special to Croatians each year. Even more so on the 25th anniversary. Nothing could have stopped the celebrations; not Coronavirus, not social distancing. Everyone was made to feel welcome.
Though the following images are specific to the village of Poljana, centrally located on Ugljan island, similar scenes were observed across the country. Fireworks lit up the night sky above the city of Zadar, just a few kilometres across the water. Children in the village watched them while swimming in the warm waters at 11pm.
A young lady from Zagreb helps out in the children’s tug-of-war. It wasn’t enough. The kids from ‘gornji grad’ won this year.
Going back for seconds.
These handsome guys kept supplying us with drinks. I’m not sure if they were selling them or giving them out for free. They were super friendly and drunker than most of their customers. The beer ran out at around 10.45pm. After that, it was the eternally challenging choice of “rakija or bed”. Most chose rakija.
Unlike many Croatians, quite a few islanders on Ugljan island have blond hair, like this guy, who looks a bit like a Viking. The cow rib he is chewing kinda helps with that leap of imagination.
Watermelon for the kiddiewinks
They roasted a whole cow over an open fire for the celebrations. The cooking time was twelve hours. It was worth it – delicious. There are no cows on island Ugljan. It was brought on a boat from a farm near Zadar, especially for the occasion. The cow was already dead when it made the journey. Partygoers said it was a male cow. One of the chefs told me it was a female. I’m not sure it matters.
Nobody seemed to know who this guy was, why he was dressed as a Mexican, nor what Mexico has to do with the tug-of-war he appeared to be adjudicating on, or with Croatian liberation. Maybe he was the mayor? Who cares? “Ay caramba!”
It didn’t end well for the first-placed losers on the rope in the tug-of-war. It was worse a few years earlier when the competition was held across the water. Aside from some of the losing team getting wet, during the final year in this format, residents managed to destroy much of a building with their shenanigans. The details were difficult to ascertain. The annual competition has been held on dry land ever since.
That’s what the remnants of a whole spit-roasted cow look like. Croatians might be familiar with this sight. British people are not. This is testosterone-fuelled barbequing taken to levels unimaginable in most countries. Svaka cast!
Few airs and graces were observed as the cow meat was running out. This lady was absolutely delightful, good-humoured, and didn’t object to being pictured mid-bite. She was the kind of lady you wished was your aunt.
A view of the village of Poljana, on Ugljan island before the sunset. The cow they cooked weighed 270 kilograms. This feast cost around 11, 000 kuna (1,332.50 British Pounds).