Locals may be complaining about the cold on the Dalmatian coast after the coldest morning in Split
in almost two years this week, but there was nothing the weather could do to prevent the traditional New Year's Day game of Picigin in the shallow waters of the Adriatic in front of Split's most famous beach, Bacvice, on January 1, 2015.
Picigin, a curious water-sport which is both a recognised Croatian heritage
and also has its own world championship, has its roots in Bacvice and is one of the defining icons of the Dalmatian capital.
There are no winners as such, and the game consists of a group of players trying to keep a small rubber ball in the air and out of the water using their hands, a task which sometimes leads to spectacular leaps in the shallow waters in front of Bacvice. As there are no fixed team numbers, it is quite common to see tourists taking part in the warmer summer months.
New Year's Day is a different proposition, however, and Split has developed a January 1 tradition each year, whereby hardy locals take to the chilly Adriatic waters to play Picigin. Today's game was played under azure Dalmatian skies and was accompanied by other sporting enthusiasts playing beach football.
2015 is an important year for Split and its tourism. As previously reported by Digital Journal, the city is emerging into one of Croatia's top tourist destinations after years of being the 'Gateway to the Islands'
of Dalmatian jewels such as Hvar, Brac, Solta and Vis. As the country looks to prolong its tourist season with the launch of Croatia 365
, the sight of athletic males in swimming trunks flying through the air above the Adriatic on New Year's Day can only add to the appeal of Split as a 12-month destination.