Author: Iva Silla
If you stroll around Zagreb parks in May, get ready for a very special treat. A variety of iris flowers are in full bloom. Pay special attention to the flower of a gentle shade of violet and blue - it's her majesty Iris Croatica, Croatian national flower.
She fits so well into parks and gardens, it makes it hard to imagine that she naturally grows in the forests. In other words, if you happen to be on a hiking trip somewhere in Croatian woods, don't be surprised to notice the same flower again. The divine Iris Croatica is an endemic specie, that grows only in Croatia and Slovenia.
And when I say divine, I literally mean it. For iris is a flower that bears the name of the divine messenger of ancient Greek gods. In Croatia, we took it a step further, naming it in honour of the ruler of the Slavic pantheon himself! We call the flower perunika. Even if you haven't heard of the ancient Slavic god of thunder Perun so far, I'm sure you're already familiar with Thor or Zeus. Just take their main features, give them a strong Slavic accent, and there you have it.
There are various legends and interpretations about the connection between the god of thunder and this flower. In some places, they call the flower strijelka - arrow, and there's a belief it only grows where Perun hit the fertile land with his thunderbolt arrow. It's no surprise that such a magnificent spring flower used to be considered a divine offspring in the times of old.
So, if you've been hoping to receive some kind of a message from above recently, just come for a walk through Zagreb parks in May, among the heavenly messengers in their full bloom. A walk among little gods on Earth... That sure sounds like a heavenly trip to Zagreb to me.