Season of Fjaka

Season of Fjaka

Enjoy these hot days? Well, probably, especially if you don't have it rest of the year, and if you are close to some refreshment. Locals in Dalmatia have very specific way of fight against summer heat. It's called fjaka (pron. something like fyackah).

So, what is it? For those familiar with Mediterranean way of life, Spanish siesta would be the closest relative. Still, fjaka is a little bit wider term than just taking a break in the hottest part of a day. It's hard to define it, so the best way is to use one old definition, almost scientific. According to that interpretation, fjaka is a "psychophysical state of mind with aspiration for nothing". A little bit more elaborated: complete absence of wish for anything, especially for any kind of work. People living in a continental part of Croatia usually, very superficially, consider fjaka as a synonym for laziness. One smart blogger once said that it's actually completely opposite: "fjaka is a sublime state of mind and body to which all humanity aspires. In countries like India and elsewhere fjaka is being achieved through long-term starvation and meditation, in Dalmatia it is simply a gift from God."

Now you know why fjaka is much wider than siesta. It doesn't matter which part of day it is, when you feel like fjaka, nothing can move you. Still, it's usually connected with summer, because heat really can slow you down to the level of vegetating. If someone ask you something, or offer you any action bigger than sitting, plea for fjaka and everything will be forgiven.

Believe it or not, fjaka was also a subject in some scientific papers. It sure deserves that, as important part of local mentality. It's not a disease, after all, but "some kind of spiritual bliss", as one writer said. Our first neighbours Italians know that very good, they invented very similar "dolce far niente" - "feel like doing nothing".

That's exactly fjaka.

When you look deeper, who can really feel like doing anything on this heat? Therefore, we are not lazy, it's beyond personal working habits. To be honest, it's almost a matter of evolution - we just adjusted to save our energy when it's in danger. Sure, the one can feel like fjaka in other seasons too, but then there are some other explanations - in springtime it's just that atmosphere of ever-changing weather, and fall brings southeast low-pressure wind jugo. You see? It's a matter of nature.

Therefore, if you hear that Dalmatians are lazy, because we just want to catch any moment to avoid work, it's not true. It's fjaka. When job needs to be done, it will be done. But if one is caught by fjaka, better wait. That's why we have a saying "May hurry goes with devil", or "to hell with rush". Just like we don't yell, we just talk that way.

As a result, if you have to wait to be served a minute or two longer, don't take it too seriously and personal. Isn't your main travelling goal to meet other cultures? So, sit back, put your sunglasses on and take it easy. It's fjaka time, and trust me, you'll love it.