Molise Croats

The exact time of arrival to the Molise region is not known. It is known to be from the 15th and 16th century. Moreover, apart from the time of arrival, there are also various assumptions from which specific areas are Molise Croats. Many experts tried to determine where the Molise Croats came from, according to the surname and dialect (Shtokavian-Chakavian dialect) specific to the speech of Molise Croats. Accordingly, they concluded that this was an area of Istria, Zadar, western Herzegovina and Makarska. Within the province of Molise in the 16th century there were 15 Croatian villages located between the rivers of Trigno and Biferno. Molise Croats were mainly initially engaged in cattle breeding and agriculture. The name of the province was given by the Italians because they often heard the sentence “Moli se” (Croatian for “Pray”) from the settlers. The songs and poetry of the Molise Croats were transmitted by word of mouth. The number of songs is small and the oral tradition “impoverished” the content of those songs. Molise Croats celebrate several specific holidays. They celebrate the remembrance day of their arrival in Italy, which takes place on the last Friday in April. Since Croatian language is poorly used, in Italian they have the saying “Sono Slavo anch'io” or “Anch'io ho sangue slavo” expressing Slavic origin. Until the 1980s, there was a custom called the “fešta do majo” that was under the folklore of “Green Man”. It was held every year at the end of April and was pagan in nature. Molise Croats are the only preserved community of expatriate Croats in southern and central Italy. Today, it is estimated that there are only two and a half thousand Molise Croats, representing the smallest Croatian minority. The situation in education is such that schools do not teach classes in Croatian, but only in Italian, so the use of the Croatian language depends on the usage at home. In addition to the poor economic situation and education, the cultural situation is also in a critical state. There is no association for the conservation of Molise Croatian language and culture, and the community in Italy is not legally recognized as a national minority.

Read more: Croats outside Croatia