The first settlements on the peninsula of Lopar date back 12 000 years, a fact which amongst others makes Lopar a unique location on the island. People have always had the need to pursue happiness.... and festivities were always accompanied by song and dance.
A traditional wind instrument in Lopar is the „Mih“ which has survived in its original form until today. Traditional dances are the „Tanac“ and the „Pojka“.
The „San Marino Cultural Society“ is Lopar's leading promoter of local customs.
Lopar's folklore ensemble was named after Saint Marino, who was born on the peninsula and later founded the Republic of San Marino.
Although the „San Marino Cultural Society“ was founded in 1998, its beginings date to the mid 1980-s when a folklore group was founded with the goal of reviving the local traditions. In late 1997 a children's group was formed; this was followed by an adult group established in early 1998 which was the start of the ensemble and counted some 40 members at the outset. Lopar also has a 150 year old tradition of masked carnivals – also known as „Loparski maškari“ and „klapa“ singing. These 3 groups were united in 1998 to form the San Marino Cultural Society and have performed on many occasions in their short history.
The folklore section is the most active part of the society. It is divided into three groups, juniors (pre-school children), intermediates (school children) and the seniors (secondary school children and adults).
The groups have performed at home in Lopar and abroad, including Germany, Austria and Slovakia. The folklore section participates in local festive events throughout the year and promotional concerts during the tourist season.
The Lopar „Maškari“ are the pride of Lopar and their tradition dates back over 100 years without interuption - even in times of war. Growing up with it, it becomes an essential part of the lives of local people. Even though Lopar is part of the island of Rab, the tradition has not spread beyond the peninsula.
On the eve of Mardi Gras, locally known as „Mesopust“, „barjaci“ (flags) are risen in two parts of the peninsula – Mel (a beach) and Mućel (a hill). „Samorčani“(folk from the north) raise their flag on Mel and „Sajužani“ (those from the south) on Mućel. The Samorčani and Sajužani gather by their respective flags in the morning of „Mesopust“ and slowly make their way to the centre of Lopar.
In small groups, they visit the locals in their homes where they are eagerly awaited. Their task is not an easy one - they must call at every home while singing and toasting with homemade wine or brandy.
Their costumes are made up of a black blazer, white trousers and a shirt, a tie and black shoes. They also wear a so called „klobuk“ - a hat made of stiff card adorned with postcards, pictures with love motifs and feathers. Attached to it is a fringed „marama“ (a long headscarf) which covers the wearer’s back. This is known as a „francuski facol“ and the fringes are known as „krudelci“. Their faces are hidden behind a „vizera“, a mask made of cloth with a sheep’s wool beard. A small bell around the waist and an iron rod finally round off their costume.
They first treat the children in the nursery to all kinds of sweets and then move on to the local vicar’s residence.
The locals prepare their tables with traditional homemade food that is typical of the season: rooster with homemade macaroni, salted meat with potatoes, homemade „prosciutto“ and cheese, donut-like pastries called „hrostuli“ and „frite“ and an assortment of other cakes. Old local songs and the tinkling of bells can be heard everywhere and the whole place seems to be more alive and cheerful than usual.
After a long and festive day, the „maškari“ return to where they set off – the „Samorčani to Mel and the „Sajužani“ to Mućel. They gather under their flags and again make their separate ways to the centre of Lopar, where the festivities last well into the night.
In order for the local traditions to be best preserved and passed on to younger generations, as well as shown to our guests, an exibition of the crafts and traditions of Lopar was organized for the first time in 2007. The feedback received was positive, not only from the tourists, but also from the locals.
On display you can see grape combing for wine, the distilling of brandy, grilled octopus, salted sardines, traditional fishing net repair techniques, the landing of fish nets, bowling on sand, wooden boat-building, fleece combing, traditional mask making, tomato conserve, a variety of smoked ham, figs with bay leaves, knitting of traditional socks, making honey and pottery.
Today’s global trend suggests a will to return to one's roots and traditions.
The preservation of our heritage is OUR goal.