In September 2009 the feast was included by UNESCO on the so-called “Intangible Cultural Heritage” list, which aims to nurture unique social rituals which have a long and authentic history. The cult of St Blaise has been central to Dubrovnik since the tenth century, and his feast day is known to have been celebrated every year without a break since at least 1190.
The festivities commence on February 2, when doves are released in front of St Blaise’s Church by the Bishop of Dubrovnik. The next morning a commemorative mass is held, followed at around 11:30 by a solemn procession of priests and locals, many wearing folk costume and waving large banners. The procession heads up Od Puča before returning to the church via the Stradun, watched by packed crowds of onlookers – many of whom come regularly from other parts of Croatia to be here on this day. Arm and leg reliquaries containing the bones of St Blaise are carried among the throng, allowing the faithful to touch them as they pass.
A fun-for-all-the-family party atmosphere takes over in the evening of the 3rd, when locals re-enact a nineteenth-century open-air version of bingo known as the tombula in front of the Sponza Palace. As in cheesy British bingo halls, the caller attaches silly names to the numbers (number 77 is referred to as “ladies’ legs”), but in Dubrovnik - in a fantastic improvement on the game of bingo as it is played elsewhere - the losers are allowed to express their dissatisfaction by throwing rotten eggs and oranges at the caller.
Feb 2 2020 - Feb 3 2020