Who doesn’t love the holiday season? In Croatia, the start of December makes way for unique and local traditions throughout the country.
The holiday season in Croatia starts with the Feast of Saint Nicholas on the 6th of December. This holiday is especially favoured by all of the Croatian children The night before the 6th they prepare their socks, and shoes and leave them on the windows. Those who were well behaved receive candy and chocolates from Saint Nick. However, legend says that misbehaved children receive nothing but a branch from Krampus.
In the Split area, more precisely Hvar island, and some other islands like Vis, the Feast of Saint Nicholas is celebrated with the burning of a small boat. The ashes of the burnt boat are used to bless all the other boats at the port in hopes of a safe and prosperous new fishing year.
We continue our journey of Croatian holiday traditions with Sveta Lucija or Saint Lucy, which takes place on the 13th of December. On this day locals plant wheat in small dishes and pots. The wheat is at its prime around Christmas day and will help foretell and estimate the prosperity and fertility of the next year depending on the height, density, and colour of the wheat.
Croatian Food and Drink
The morning of Christmas Eve is widely celebrated around Croatia. In Dubrovnik, you’ll find locals dressed in their best attire wandering the streets of the Old Town and vendors selling traditional treats and beverages. On this day the locals traditionally fast, eating only “Bakalar – codfish, and “Popara”- fish soup. The Bakalar is served in either a red or white dish during the holiday season.
The traditional sweets are kontonjata, served on bay leaves, and the preferred sugar-coated prikle. Prikles are fried dough balls with a filling or topping of your choice, and kontonjata is a type of jelly made out of quince, sugar, and lemon. Croatians love sweets, especially during the holidays!
Spiced wine, travarica, or rose liqueur “Rozulin” made from a special rose found in the Dubrovnik area are two of the typical drinks enjoyed in December.
In Dubrovnik, the night before Christmas and New Year’s Day brings about a unique and lively tradition called Kolenda. Groups of friends of all age groups travel from house to house singing songs and playing instruments. Locals aim to enter the new year in high spirits surrounded by music and good company.
Overall, the holiday season in Croatia consists of eating heavy foods, overindulging in sweets and drinks, and maintaining a joyful spirit to start off a new year.
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