Carnival season is upon us and many of my fellow citizens of Dubrovnik are loving it. It's a colourful and interesting local custom and one that is usually seasoned with a healthy dose of criticism towards the local and national government, big businesses or world leaders.
To my recollection, I was involved in the carnival only twice in my life, back when I was in elementary school. However, carnival is far from child's play in Dubrovnik and the rest of Croatia. Serious carnival societies around the country spend much of the year preparing their costumes and props for February shenanigans. Pressing political issue are bound to be on the menu when the carnival procession hits our main street. It’s an ages old tradition, and not a bad one at all. For this brief period, we get to laugh at the problems we worry about for most of the year.
Not everything during carnival season is about serious satire, of course. There are plenty of entertaining options around. Kids are dressing up as their favourite superheroes or princesses and young people are throwing masked parties and running around being jolly without anybody recognising them.
If you think I’m going to be predictable by saying I don’t like dressing up in costumes and hanging around other dressed up people… you are absolutely correct. Before you attack me for being a perpetual party pooper, I must say I have absolutely nothing against the traditional or modern practices of carnival season. I just can’t run away from the introvert in me. Regular carnival proceedings tick all the boxes on an introvert’s list of horrors. You need to dress up in such a way you will automatically draw attention to yourself, you are around plenty of strange people with whom you need to act silly and spontaneous, and you might even end up in a parade down the streets of your hometown. All this is bad enough, but it’s really nothing more demanding than a regular holiday festivity or a night out with business partners.
However, my problem with dressing up in costumes is that there is no real pay-off. I don’t really care if nobody can recognise me. Most of the times I feel I’m wearing a mask anyway. Don’t we all? It’s only normal and practical we don’t show who we are to everybody. It would take too much time. Besides, I’m pretty certain the lady at the supermarket or the mailman don’t care about my world views or why I’m afraid of spiders. It makes sense to keep some of that info to myself. Carnival week seems to simply be an opportunity for putting on a different mask to the one we usually have on. The other potential masquerade pay-off I don’t care for is trying to impress people around me with my clever disguise choice. It’s really not a big “turn-on” in my book. Besides, dressing up like Jack Torrance from The Shinning would probably end up confusing majority of people. They would most likely think I’m going for a lumberjack outfit and failing miserably.
All of you dressing up this or the following week, have a great time and keep the traditions going. Also, please give the government and world leaders one symbolic kick in the butt for me. I myself will be at home, disguised very cunningly as a grumpy workaholic. It works every year, the only problem is… everybody recognises me.
Bozidar Jukic, AKA The Restless Native, is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.