Christmas Traditions in Croatia
As a mostly Catholic country, Croatia has strong traditions related to Christmas and Advent. Croatia is gaining more attention during the most festive time of the year for its fabulous Christmas markets and events that make Croatia desirable tourist destination during the winter.
Christmas is a family holiday so to experience the spirit of Christmas fully, it’s better to celebrate with a Croatian family. But even as a tourist, to visit and experience Croatia during Christmas, is an unforgettable experience.
Croatians start to prepare for Christmas by decorating their homes and surroundings with Christmas ornaments and by lighting up the Advent candles – total of 4. Each Sunday they light one additional candle until the Christmas day.
Christmas Eve is when families gather to cook tasty dishes for both Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Cakes and cookies are made a few days in advance but the traditional Christmas dish is prepared on Christmas Eve – it is a cod fish prepared as stew – “Brudet”. This day is a fasting day, and one should not consume meat, cakes or dairy products. “Fritule” is often an exception though – it’s Christmas donut-like cake made from dough and raisins and deep-fried in oil. The day is spent preparing the house and cooking, while the kids play by the Christmas tree, meeting with friends and family and going to Midnight Mass.
Christmas morning is when most Croatian families go to church if they skipped the Midnight Mass and then unwrap the presents under the Christmas tree. Christmas day is also well known for the excessive amount of food offered at each meal. The most elaborate meal is definitely the Christmas lunch which will have a variety of traditional Croatian starters and complex meat dishes – like a roast or “pasticada” – beef stew. This is followed with traditional Christmas cookies, cakes and other sweets.
If you are travelling, be aware that pretty much all businesses and banks are closed during this time so plan accordingly.