St. Nicholas Day in Dalmatia

December 6 is known also as St. Nicholas Day. It is an important saint, celebrated in Dalmatia as a patron saint of sailors, travellers and small children. His name in Croatian is Nikola or Mikula.

Traditionally the night before its day children would leave their socks or shoes under a window and their parents would fill them with presents (apples, dried figs, wallnuts, almonds). Sometimes they would leave also the twigs as a warning to the disobedient children.

St. Nicholas is usually represented as a bishop with three gold spheres or three small sacks with coins. Sometimes it is depicted with an ancor or a boat or surrounded with small children.

There are many legends connected to the life of this saint but “there is nothing certain known of his life except that he was probably bishop of Myra in the 4th century“. His relics are kept in Bary, Italy in basilica of San Nicola.

As we mentioned above, this saint was celebrated throughout Dalmatia. Some villages have festivity on patrons day, some the day before. Other villages organize processions that celebrate St. Nicholas Day. The most famous ones are held in Murter (Murter island), Stari grad (Hvar island) and in Komiža (Vis island).

The processions in Stari Grad and in Komiža are truly spectacular and they finish with the ritual burning of an old wooden fisherman’s boat. This ancient ritual of sacrifice is done in order to save all the sailors and all the boats in the world.

More about St. Nicholas in our blog post about military fortress in Sibenik named after this popular saint.