The Halubian Bell Ringers

 

Halubje is a town located in the western area of the Kastav region near Rijeka, Croatia.  It is here where unique folk customs have been maintained by „zvončari“ or bell ringers since prehistoric times.  Wearing a sheepskin thrown over their shoulders, a huge bell around their waist and stylised masks representing strange animal heads with a red tongue stuck out and with horns, they walk through the forests and towns of the region in the days before Ash Wednesday, scaring away the evil spirits of winter to herald spring.  When they reach certain towns, they form a circle, shake their hips and ring their deafeningly loud bells.  

Legend has it that the bell ringers scared away the Tatars or Turks when they tried to invade the region: the shepherds of the time wore a sheepskin cape, put a mask on their heads, a bell around their waists, and produced loud noises, scaring away the enemy.  The modern day bell ringers continue to wear the same “costume”.

I spent an entire day with the bell ringers on 24.2.2020, walking with them for 12 hours in the Kastav region of Croatia.  All photos here were taken on that day.  

You can find out more about the bell ringers on their website here.

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