RAB FJERA – Holy day of St. James
RabskaFjera is the oldest and largest medieval summer festival in Croatia. It is based on a tradition that began on 21 July 1364, when Rab Town Council decided to pay tribute to King Louis the Great, who freed Rab from Venetian rule. In the past, the Fjera used to last 14 days, when the inhabitants of the island would adore the relics of St Christopher, who is credited with saving the town from destruction. Today the Fjera is celebrated in his honour.
RabskaFjera takes place every year from 25 to 27 July (the feast days of St James, St Anne and St Christopher). During the festival, the entire town goes back in time. Small artisan shops and craft workshops move into the streets and lanes, offering visitors a unique opportunity to experience at first-hand how a belt or fragrant pomade is made in the traditional way, or how to decorate hair with tiny flowers, just like in the Middle Ages. The aroma of freshly fried šulčići wafts through the air, while an entire fishing village is built on the beach. The streets resound with song and music as passers-by are offered tuna, fritule fritters, cheese and wine.
The last day of RabskaFjera, 27 July, is also the feast day of St Christopher, patron saint of the town of Rab. On that day, the knights’ games of the Association of Rab Crossbowmen are held to mark the closing of RabskaFjera.
The tradition of the knights’ games of the Rab crossbowmen was revived in 1995 with the founding of the Association of Rab Crossbowmen (the first knights’ games had been held in 1364). Along with knights’ games, costumes from the Middle Ages also returned. The games are held several times a year on St Christopher’s Square in Rab: 9 May (Day of the Town of Rab); 30 May (Croatian Statehood Day); 27 July (the feast day of St Christopher, patron saint of the town of Rab – a festival and Rab crossbowmen tournament) and 15 August (Assumption Day – a festival and Rab crossbowmen tournament).