Unijani once again celebrate ‘Jadrinja’ on Long Island, New York
- by croatiaweek
- in Entertainment
Manhasset, Long Island, NY – In November the Unijan community in the New York area once again celebrated “Jadrinja” the Feast of Sveti Andreja – St. Andrew, the patron saint of the Croatian island of Unije.
Unije is the Western-most Kvarner island in the Adriatic Sea. Today only about 65 people make their home there year round. That has not always been the case though.
In 1900 there were about 700 inhabitants on the island. Poverty, war, political changes and lack of opportunity depopulated the island like many other Adriatic islands. Most of the Unijani resettled in the U.S. mainly in the New York-New Jersey area. Others went to California, the West Coast, Colorado, Florida, Canada, Argentina and Australia.
In New York the Women’s Club of Unije has very capably organized the Jadrinja celebration now for 25 years. The organization’s mission is to provide assistance for restoration of the historic landmarks on the island and to strive to maintain and preserve the iconic culture and the vitality of the descendant community.
Every summer many descendants in the diaspora return to visit and enjoy being at their ancestral home. In efforts to preserve and chronicle the heritage a number of efforts have already been made and continue. Working with descendants in California, the long lost memory of the island’s folk costumes (nosnje) have been rediscovered, and the unique folk dance Stari Roso brought back to life.
In the last few years Silvana Pillepich – Peroš and Davor Karniš have created a small historical museum in an old olive oil mill that showcases the former way of life on the island. The Women’s Club has funded restoring the Crikva Sv. Andreja na groblju, and the Kapelica Vela Gospa.
Margita Nikolić wrote and developed the book “Unije kuželj vaf sarcu” which describes the island’s karvotski dialect’s grammar and contains a dictionary of spoken words. Grant Karcich wrote the book: “The History and Families of Unije” a guide to the island’s history and genealogy.
Recently Anton Angelich, Unijan descendant and career food scientist and agriculturalist completed writing an extensive book: “The Farming, Fishing, and Cooking Traditions of the Island of Unije, Croatia A Heritage and History to Preserve” He donated the copies of the book to the Women’s Club as a fundraiser. The book has gone out to over diasporan 175 households.
Most recently, Ledis Gazić, President of the Women’s Club has published her new book of Unijan poetry: “Mornar u Meni Zna.”
The Unijan community on this side of the Atlantic is proud of their accomplishments to preserve landmarks, the culture and to keep vitality in the community.
There is great interest among the younger generations to perpetuate their heritage. Future endeavors include further chronicling the folklore and music and dance.