Saint Domnius Day: New (and Old) Top 10 Things Not To Miss

Saint Domnius Day: New (and Old) Top 10 Things Not To Miss

Three years ago I wrote here a blog with Top 10 things not to be missed during festivities of Saint Domnius' Day, locally known as Sudamja (pron. Soodamyah). I believe it's time to create a new list, with some new and some old events and customs.

Sudamja is by far the biggest local holiday in Split, celebrated for centuries on May 7. It's dedicated to the city's patron saint, early Christian bishop in nearby Roman City of Salona, executed in 304 AD. History can bring strange twists, like in this case; Domnius (Dujam or Duje in Split) is the protector of the city which also celebrates Emperor Diocletian as the city's founder, and same Emperor brought laws by which Domnius was killed. There is more - Diocletian's mausoleum is today cathedral usually considered as dedicated to Domnius. Complicated? Well, that's history of Split.

With celebrating a saint,  Sudamja is a religious holiday, but it's much more for everyone in Split, sort of a city's birthday, with number of festivities ranging from entertainment, to art, to religious. Check full program here, and here is the list of events you should try not to miss, not ranked.

1. For years, Sudamja is closely associated with rowing, with International Rowing Regatta Sveti Duje. On May 4 come to Spinut for International University Race. Yes, there will be also boats from Oxford and Cambridge, rarely out of Thames. Next day, in city's harbour right in front of the main promenade enjoy something unique, race of rowing legends from Split, Oxford and Cambridge, with boats filled with Olympic, World and European championships medal winners.

2. Saint Cross Festa on May 2-3 will take you back to life of old Split, in its most picturesque and one of the oldest neighbourhoods, Veli Varoš.

3. Floral Holiday is coming back to Diocletian's Palace's substructures. Enjoy one of the biggest flower shows in Croatia, even more attractive as part of the 1,700 years old venue.

4. Always popular is Sudamja Fair on May 6-7, one of the oldest traditions connected with this holiday. Local custom says that you should take home anything made of wood, at least a spoon. And trust me, you will have plenty of choices on stalls lined up at Riva.

5. As usual, central event will be procession on the big day, May 7, starting at 10 am. It goes from the cathedral at Peristil, through the Palace's Eastern Gate, passing through market to Riva, across the promenade to its western end where Holy Mass will be celebrated. Procession follows a silver bust with the Saint's reliquaries. According to tradition, bust is followed by city, county and state officials, members of parishes, and at the end thousands of Split citizens will walk to honour their Patron Saint.

6. After the mass and religious part of great festa, holiday afternoon brings some lighter content. Main event will be, as usual, big public tombola at Riva. Join thousands in search of some luck, but in case you have right numbers you will have to be fast to reach the stage and claim your award.

7. After tombola main stage will host charity concert "A Key For Life", with some of biggest Croatian pop stars. All collected money will go for main hospital in Split. Big day ends as it should - with a big firework. Concert will not be the only music event these days, because singers, folklore ensembles and orchestra will perform every day, sometime even few times a day.

8. Food and drinks are always good reason for getting together and enjoy. Sudamja is not an exception - old fish market in Marmontova street will host Food And Drink Festival, right after procession. It's always a good way to have lunch with locals.

9. Gallery of Fine Arts is one of the best museums in Split, and for this occasion a choice was made from their collection, with one particular theme: Split. Visit it at the Old City Hall at Narodni trg.

10. Christianity marked most of Split history, and Diocletian Palace went through complete religious makeover in early and later Middle Ages, when dozens of small and bigger churches were built or converted from Roman temples. Excellent exhibition will give you full insight into that part of local heritage. Visit it at Diocletian Gallery in Split City Museum.