January is the time when groups of zvončari (bellringers) begin their marches between villages in the Kastav area of Croatia. Each Sunday until the end of the Carnival period on Ash Wednesday, they can be observed along traditional routes - with frequent stops for food, wine and mischief along the way.
Most groups of zvončari are only active during the carnival period, and refuse to perform outside of their own village areas. Others, such as Halubajski zvončari, participate in various occasions all year round - nationally and internationally.
The Zvončari tradition was added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009, with the following statement from the evaluation committee:
* R1: The element gives its practitioners a sense of identity and continuity, through the costumes, dances and journey that they make; it is passed on from generation to generation;
* R2: Inscription of the element would contribute to the visibility of intangible cultural heritage at the local, national and international levels and promote respect for cultural diversity and creativity;
* R3: Various current and planned safeguarding measures are presented in the nomination, including a number of areas such as education, visibility and documentation, and specifying costs and timelines;
* R4: The nomination demonstrates clearly that the practitioners of the element, i.e. the bell ringers, participated at all stages of the nomination process and their free, prior and informed consent is demonstrated;
* R5: The element is inscribed in the Register of Cultural Goods of the Republic of Croatia maintained by the Ministry of Culture.