Croatia officially known as the Republic of Croatia is a country located at the crossroads of Central Europe, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Zagreb is its capital and the largest city.
Croatia has diverse, mostly continental and Mediterranean climates. Croatia’s most common religious denomination being Roman Catholicism.
Christmas Celebrations in Croatia :
Celebrating Christmas has been a prominent festivity among Croats dating back to the ninth century when Croats accepted Christianity. Due to different geographical and historical influences varying Christmas customs have developed over the centuries, such as variations in carols, sayings, dishes, and decorations.
In Croatia, Christmas is observed with much fervor and the preparations for the festival begin since the beginning of the Advent. Croatia’s Catholic heritage can be seen in its celebration of Christmas. Croatia’s capital city is Zagreb and the Christmas market is a worth view with festive decorations, on the main square.
Women of the house traditionally start baking cookies and cakes and decoration of the house with wreaths and trees. Licitar hearts or hand-decorated cookies are often decorate Christmas trees here. Christmas creches are also used for decoration in Croatia. Various greenery, including evergreen boughs, is a typical Christmas decoration.
The actual festivities begin here in real earnestness on December 13 – St. Lucy’s Day when a very popular Christmas tradition is observed in the country. The mother or female head of every individual family plants wheat seeds in a round dish or plate of shallow water on this day. Normally these germinate by Christmas Eve (December 24th) growing about 8 inches tall, and that is when these are tied together with “trobojnica” (ribbons) of red, blue and white colour, colours of the Croatian flag. These are spread around the floors and under the tablecloth for the Christmas dinner. Sometimes a candle is lit and placed within the wheat along with other symbolic items. It is said that the light that is seen through the wheat is a symbol of the soul within every person.
It is also on Christmas Eve also known as Badnjak in Croatia that the Christmas tree is set up and decorations made in every home though many families begin the process days in advance.
Christmas Day is spent with family or at church. 25th December is mainly seen as a day of holy observances in Croatia and hence, though gift-giving exists during Christmas it is not a too popular tradition in the country. But there are no dearth of gifts for Croatian children, who receive their presents around the time of Christmas even though the occasions and reasons happen to be different. In the northern and central regions of Croatia, it is St. Nicholas who fills the boots of young children with gifts on December 6th (St. Nicholas Day). In southern and north eastern Croatia, it is St. Lucy who is being seen as the traditional bringer of presents. On December 24th, the Christmas Eve, Santa Claus and the baby Jesus are believed to be the visitors to many homes, leaving gifts for good kids.
On the night of Christmas feasts are an important and highly anticipated aspect of the Croatian Christmas celebrations. Stuffed cabbage, sarma, Dalmatian pot roast, pasticada, walnut roll, badnji kruh (fresh bread), purica, smlincima, odojark, orahnjaca, poppy seed roll, makovnjaca, fritters and suckling pig form some of the main items of the Christmas menu in many Croatian homes. Christmas Eve dishes generally comprise of cuisines like “Bianco and biudetto” (cod fish), smelts and salted sardines while the Christmas dinner consists of such delicacies as stuffed cabbage, turkey, zagorje noodles and fig cake. Straw may be placed underneath the Christmas Eve tablecloth. Fish, as a substitute for meat, is served, though a meat dish is usually served as the entree on Christmas Day. A yule log may be burnt and church may be attended.
The Christmas celebrations officially come to a close here on January 6 (Epiphany), when local priests visit the homes of the parishioners to give them their blessings.
On Christmas Day, Croats wish each other ‘Sretan Bozic’ which is the Croatian way of saying “Merry Christmas”.
Wishing all readers Merry Christmas 2019 & Happy New Year 2020 !!!