The celebration of St. Duje (St. Domnius), or as it is commonly called between Split citizens „Sudamja “, takes place every year on the 7th of May. This is one of the most important days for the citizens of Split, that if it falls on a working day – children are let out of school and a lot of companies (not related to tourism) work short – or don’t work at all! Even though Sudamja is celebrated as a religious holiday, it is much more than that – with a number of festivities ranging from concerts to fairs, exhibitions, folklor performances, art, to religious. Moreover, this manifestation is considered the Day of the city of Split.
If you find yourself in Split on this day and are looking to do something the locals do – then we suggest you buy a wooden spoon from one of the fair stands on the Riva (Promenade). The children buy little wooden birds on wheels that are attached to a stick – and by pushing the bird down the street, it claps its wooden wings. The local call this wooden bird a “Klepetuša” and it is usually decorated with red, yellow and blue colours.
Another local experience would be to buy a tombola ticket. The numbers are drawn sometimes in the late afternoon and the whole of Split gathers on the Riva (Promenade) to cross out their numbers.
Sudamja lasts the whole day and it begins with the raising of Croatian flag on the top of cathedral’s bell tower. The central event is the procession. It begins from the cathedral of St. Domnius through the palace’s eastern gate, passing through the market, all the way to the Riva (Promenade) in order to celebrate the Holy Mass.
What do we actually celebrate on this day? Well, St. Domnius was a third century Bishop of Salona, which was a large Roman city serving as capital of the Province of Dalmatia. Nowadays, St. Domnius is a Patron Saint of Split. He lived and acted during the reign of Roman emperor Diocletian and died as Christian martyr at time when Christians were persecuted. His relicts can be found inside of the Cathedral of St. Domnius, which is located at the very centre of Diocletian’s Palace, and is the oldest cathedral in the world.
The existence of Sudamja most probably dates back to early middle ages, as the celebration was first mentioned in the Statute of Split in 1312. The longevity of the celebration confirms its great importance for the locals.
The celebration of St. Domnius culminates at the outset of May with which the hot, summer time begins, typical for Dalmatian area. In other words, Sudamja also represents a celebration of the awakening of the Mediterranean spirit after a long winter.
Don’t miss out on celebrating this very important day with us!