Unique in Croatia, the mediaeval summer fair called the Rabska Fjera was first proclaimed on 21st July 1364 and revived in 2002 as a town holiday, and its greatest role is in safeguarding and developing local and traditional values.
The Rabske ferije municipal holidays were proclaimed by the Great Council of the Town of Rab on 21st of July 1364 in honour of King Ljudevit the Great, who liberated Rab from the Venetians, and in honour of St Christopher, patron of the town of Rab, and his powers, which according to legend saved Rab. Participants of the Rabska Fjera are artisans and craftsmen on the island of Rab who make a livelihood from crafts which existed and provided a living for people in the Middle Ages.
There are also clubs and societies which voluntarily keep alive traditional crafts, cultivate traditional values, make home-made products and help preserve a way of life. The revived Rabske Fjere are held in a shortened form and last three days: 25th July, (St James’ Day), 26th July (St Anne’s Day) and 27th of July (St Christopher’s Day), between 9 p.m. and half past midnight.
The significance, purpose and effect of this has thus far best been described by Croatian academician Slobodan Novak in the foreword to the Rabska Fjera catalogue, from which we have taken the following quote:
“… is, on the contrary, a dignified celebration, just as it was when it was inaugurated, six-and-a-half centuries ago. And it is not some vain, glitzy parade, but a true expression of the desire to penetrate, even if only by intuition, into the dimness of centuries gone by, where the shadows of our ancestors can still be recognised; to perceive our roots, to confirm and affirm our identity; despite being interconnected and liberated/entangled by the sophisticated technologies of today, to remind ourselves of the beauty of work carried out by hand, the skill of fingers, calluses instead of gloves, of the essential connection with nature, with the land and with the sea; of the spiritual and material creative legacy of our forefathers, their individual, lone creativity, which this time of teamwork, production lines and machine manufacturing has somewhat forgotten.”