Semenj

Semenj was mentioned for the first time in the Decree of the Venetian Republic on 14th August 1543: it says that Semenj lasted 8 days from 31.07. to 08.08. and everything that was delivered to Cres for doing business and sale was customs- and tax free.

After the Venetian Republic this event was officially governed by the Bulla of the Emperor Francis Joseph dated from 1882.

Semenj is an old Croatian word meaning fair and was written Samanj but was mainly mispronounced Semenj. This fair has grown into a real festivity - a traditional folk feast that begun on 5th August (the festivity of St Mary of the Snow to whom the parish church is dedicated) and used to last for three days. During this time all kinds of goods such as clothes, fruits and sweats were displayed on stalls in the square and offered for sale: even the Chinese used to come. Sail boats - the so called trabaceolos and bragoci - and the harbour swarmed with the young and old, children and whole families: the children enjoyed sweats and toys, women ice cream and men found their joy in having a beer. The last day of Semenj was reserved for tombola in the square.

After the World War II this folk festivity was publicly neglected, forgotten and even banned, however, the custom among the people remained.

When the Croatian state was established we tried to revive the age-old tradition so that in 1990 we started to celebrate Semenj again: in 1990 the flag of Cres was raised in the main square and the mass in honour to St Mary of the Snow was celebrated. This has grown into a real tourist event. Many events unfold within these three days and end with a tombola the earnings of which go to humanitarian purposes. According to the good old tradition sponsors provide all the tombola prizes.