Croatia

Church Bells and Distant Thunder: Local Superstitions


Sunday, August 8th, 2004: Primošten, Croatia

Irina and Davor leave very early tomorrow morning so tonight they have invited us all for cake and coffee to celebrate Davor’s birthday. Two different types of cheese cake are served and we all linger over coffee before John and I head to Francois and John’s room for some home made pasta salad (A Home Cooked Meal! Wow!) and a glass of wine. An hour earlier we watch from the patio as sweeping washes of lightning began to bathe the twilight sky in white; now we begin to hear the far-off rumblings of thunder as well. Our “dessert-before” dinner progresses as does the lightning and thunder grow more and more assertive and energetic. We gobble down our last bite, say quick good-nights and head around the corner and up the hill to our room just as the rain starts to pelt down. Tourists are running down the slick pavers leading from the summit of this small island, their panoramic rooftop restaurant dinners interrupted by the blowing storm.

This Local Superstition

The storm blows in, the thunder and lightning crashing just above our heads. At the height of the tempest and over the din of the rain and blowing, I hear church bells. Someone or something is ringing all the church bells in the old town. It is an eerie sound coming through the storm – strangely comforting yet somewhat unsettling at the same time. The bells are ringing with a frantic urgency that is usually associated with fire or disaster, calling the local fire brigade or ringing for some other help. We discover in the morning that the locals ring the bells every time an electrical storm blows up – to draw the lightning and its potential devastating effects away from their vulnerable houses and instead, up to the pealing bells, high in the belfry. We somehow don’t think that the ringing, swinging bells will attract the lightning away, but this local superstition must give the residents peace of mind during major thunderstorms.

And just like that the storm is over, leaving only the sound of the dripping eves to ease us to sleep.

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