Christmas In Croatia: Christmas Traditions In Croatia & Finest Christmas Markets In Croatia

Some posts include compensated hyperlinks. Please learn this disclaimer
for more information.

Editors be aware: I up to date this put up in 2018 with traditions, though this put up was initially written in 2014.

It’s nearly right here, our very first Christmas in Croatia. It’s been seven months since we moved from Australia to Croatia and it feels prefer it was simply yesterday in so some ways, but a lifetime in different methods.

Having my sister go to final week was good, it was a lift from dwelling that each she and I wanted. However now what? Normally, right now of the yr, there are such a lot of events and actions that I battle to seek out the time to attend all of them. This yr, it’s rather more low key. So low key, in truth, I can hardly consider that Christmas is simply days away.

First Croatian Christmas treeMy Very First Actual Tree & My First One In Croatia

Nearly everybody asks about how issues examine between my right here and your there if you’re an expat. After all, the variations are many, so Christmas time is not any exception. A couple of issues stood out to me regarding how we’ll have a good time our first Christmas in Croatia in comparison with Christmas in Australia.

Which Christmas Traditions In Croatia Are Totally different?

Croatia is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic in majority, so that ought to let you know that this time of yr is an important interval on the calendar. Croatian Christmas traditions and customs have modified over time, however a number of the oldest ones have managed to stay, and are nonetheless practiced in the present day. What you’ll discover above all the pieces else is meals, tons and many meals!

No Christmas Tree

Handmade Christmas in Croatia angel - Chasing the DonkeyHandmade Christmas in Croatia angel - Chasing the DonkeyWho Wants A Division Retailer, When You Can Have Handmade

December 1st got here and went, and there was zero signal of any bushes, fake or actual. There have been a number of decorations right here and there, however no enormous part on the grocery store.

I used to be slightly unhappy after I requested about why, as I actually wish to get my tree up and begin to get within the spirit. They informed me that actual bushes are bought from in regards to the 20th of December and, historically, the tree shouldn’t be adorned till the 24th of December. Briefly, I assumed I’d ditch my concept for an actual tree and seize a fake one, however that concept lasted all of two minutes till I noticed the unhappy and ugly fake bushes on the market. My unhappy little face grew to become all shiny and cheery when on December 17th, we discovered our very first and actual tree on the market on the aspect of the street.

Croatian Christmas Has No Santa

Effectively, that’s not likely true. Simply no Santa images, no all-singing all-dancing, in-your-face commercialism of any variety. Bravo Croatia, bravo. Those that know me in actual life know that I hate the Santa lie. There, I mentioned it, and you may hate me again all you want. I’ll be having no Santa “the massive fats lie” Claus on this home.

All these lies and deception, for what? For my kids’s creativeness? We now have all yr to work on that, with out making a lie for which most dad and mom pressure kids to behave in lieu for items. To date, right here in Croatia, the shortage of Santa agrees with me.

No Division Retailer Home windows

No department shops = no fancy window shows. A minimum of not right here in Zadar. Even the Buying Facilities waited till effectively into December to place up the very meager quantity of Croatian Christmas decorations. And for that, I used to be thrilled. Annually in Australia, Christmas tree decorations and the myriad of all issues inexperienced and pink start showing earlier and earlier. It makes me so cross annually, however I do know why outlets do it, as fools like me all the time purchase ‘simply this one factor‘ early.

What I did see, although, was little kiosks and roadside stalls promoting Croatian nativity units, and REAL moss. Sure, REAL moss for folks so as to add to their nativity scenes at dwelling. Now I’ll take that over that ugly pink felt Santa swimsuit any day.

No Warmth For Christmas In Croatia

Effectively, there’s warmth, it’s simply roaring from my hearth reasonably than the blazing summer season solar. It’s unusual, however not new. We’ve celebrated Christmas in New York and Paris when it was snowing. However then we had been on trip, so it appeared regular. Now that we stay right here, it feels considerably unusual to have colder days, no tree and the necessity for a fireside as an alternative of the air conditioning and chilly showers.

Croatian Christmas Wheat

Christmas in Croatia. Christmas Wheat - Chasing the DonkeyChristmas in Croatia. Christmas Wheat - Chasing the DonkeyMy Very First Batch Of Christmas Wheat

That is one new Croatian Christmas custom that I can be embracing! We planted it on the feast day of St. Lucia, which was on December 13th. And as for many issues, after I say we planted it… I imply I appeared on and smiled, and can now type of take the credit score. It’s a small plate that was laid with a layer of damp cotton wool, to which the wheat seeds had been added.

What’s the wheat for? I’m informed that the wheat seeds ought to develop huge and tall. How huge and the way tall is believed to be in direct correlation to how fortunate and affluent you can be for the upcoming yr. Gulp, that’s what I name stress.

Ten centimeters was my intention, and in the present day it’s already at eight.  I used to be very tempted so as to add fertilizer, simply to encourage the wheat and guarantee our good fortunes for subsequent yr, however I resisted. As soon as it grows, we’ll trim it to make all of it fairly, tie some ribbon round it and stick in a candle for it to be the centerpiece of the Christmas dinner desk.

There are such a lot of extra Croatian Christmas traditions, so earlier than I head off to wrap extra items and have one other rakija, let me share them with you under.

Croatian Christmas Traditions



I’ve come to be taught over time that for Croatians the massive celebration day shouldn’t be truly December 25th. As an alternative, it’s Christmas Eve as is the case in lots of different European international locations. The day consists of two halves: Badnji Dan (Christmas Eve day) and Badnja Večer (Christmas Eve night time).

It’s additionally value noting that Croatian Christmas traditions are barely completely different throughout the nation. Every space does issues their very own means. Listed here are a number of traditions in Croatia I’ve come to be taught.

Christmas Dates

Listed here are a number of dates that took me some getting used to:

25 November – St Catherine’s Day

Sure, you learn that proper, November! In sure components of the nation, you will note preparations for the massive occasion starting early. This specific day is known as Sveta Kata, or St Catherine’s Day, and marks the beginning of the festivities. For a lot of, nevertheless, this doesn’t truly start till the primary day of Creation. On St Catherine’s Day, you gained’t discover any weddings or different massive celebrations happening.

The 4th Sunday Earlier than Christmas Day – Prva Adventska Nedjelja

Creation Sunday falls on the fourth Sunday earlier than Christmas Day, and this present day sees the primary candle lit on the wreath of 4 candles. In days passed by, the wreath was crafted from branches of an evergreen tree, which was alleged to be an emblem of ceaselessly or eternity. On each following Sunday main as much as Christmas Day, one other candle within the wreath is lit.

6 December – St Nicholas’ Day

An incredible excuse to provide and obtain items! Sveti Nikola is the normal begin of Christmas present giving. The night time earlier than, kids historically cleaned and polished their sneakers, and left them on the window outdoors, in anticipation of St Nicholas coming and leaving them some sweets of their sneakers. Solely the great kids bought the goodies, nevertheless, and people who had been lower than effectively behaved acquired one thing else – sticks from slightly demon known as Krampus!

13 December – Day of St Lucia

Sveta Lucija or St Lucia’s Day is a special occasion within the Christmas calendar. It was historically St Lucia who introduced items to kids within the northeastern and southern components of Croatia on this present day. Those that had been within the north or middle of the nation acquired their items on St Nicholas’ Day as an alternative. As customs and traditions have modified, the situation doesn’t matter anymore, and items are given to all (offered they’ve been effectively behaved) on St Lucia’s Day, St Nicholas’ Day, and Christmas Day, too – fortunate kids!

There’s a crucial custom that takes place on this present day additionally, and it’s about Christmas Wheat. It was historically moms who planted the wheat on this present day, though it may also be carried out by anybody. The peak and measurement of the wheat when it grows is meant to represent how fortunate and affluent you’re going to be within the coming 12 months! On Christmas Eve, the wheat is tied with pink, white and blue ribbon.

24 December – Christmas Eve

Let the celebrations start!

We talked about that Christmas Eve is a giant deal in Croatia, a very powerful Christmas vacation in Croatia, and is cut up into two halves. Within the night, a log is historically lit by the daddy of the family. This custom is known as badnjak, and the hope is that the log will proceed burning proper via to the top of Christmas Day.

On Christmas Eve, you’ll see households in every single place coming collectively for his or her conventional meal. That is additionally the day when the Christmas tree is historically adorned with conventional Croatian Christmas ornaments, though many can’t wait that lengthy and do it beforehand! (You could find a number of extra particulars about Christmas Eve in Croatia under.)

25 December – Christmas Day (Bozic)

Whereas the giving of Croatian Christmas items would have taken place the night time earlier than, that doesn’t imply that the consuming stops on Christmas Day. This can be a conventional household day when folks come collectively and luxuriate in their time. By the top of the day, the possible final result is that you can be stuffed with meals and unable to maneuver!

6 January – Epiphany/Bogojavljenje

That is the normal finish of Christmas and is the day when Christmas bushes are taken down and saved away for an additional yr. There are a number of regional traditions to speak about on this specific day, too. Within the north and northeastern components of the nation, a ritual known as zvjezdari generally takes place. That is when three boys go to homes and provides items. The boys carry a cardboard star, after the Bethlehem star, and a candle. The boys generally sing songs on the similar time, and this symbolizes the top of the Christmas interval.


Throughout Christmas in Croatia, there’s a Christmas custom of bringing a log into the house, referred to as a badnjaks, and setting it alight with the concept that it burns till Christmas Day. After all, this isn’t so widespread now that so few houses have a fire, however I’m informed we’ll do that after we personal a fire. Goodie!

Traditionally, the log would cross via a spiritual ritual, whereby the oldest man within the household sprinkles it with holy water and frankincense whereas citing a prayer. In some components of Croatia, badnjaks are additionally sprinkled with rakija.  The log is meant to stay burning all night time, so every member of the family will take turns through the night to make sure it stays burning.

Church For Christmas

For Croats, Christmas is a time of Non secular Celebration as faith is a crucial a part of their life. We have a good time the Start Of The Lord and Savior, and it’s customary to go to church at midnight, after you’ve eaten your Christmas Eve meal.

Conventional Croatian Christmas Meals

Roasted Spit Razanj | Travel Croatia GuideRoasted Spit Razanj | Travel Croatia GuideThis Was Our Christmas In Croatia 2013 – Roasted Piggy!

Christmas is a superb time of yr, irrespective of the place you might be to have a good time it. In case you’re in Croatia at Christmas time, you’re in for an actual deal with as a result of December is a veritable feast (in additional methods than one) of Christmas enjoyable.

Christmas in Croatia shouldn’t be a time to be on a weight loss plan! We’ve talked about typical Croatian meals on various events, so what varieties of meals are you able to count on to get pleasure from as a part of a conventional Croatian Christmas?

Christmas Eve Meals In Croatia

Christmas Eve is in some areas a conventional day of fasting, and within the night, a easy meal is loved. Historically, this isn’t a day when Croatians eat meat. As an alternative, their important meal options fish, sometimes codfish, which is ready in varied methods in numerous areas in Croatia.

Within the Dalmatia area, dried codfish is the normal Christmas Eve meal, which is known as bakalar. The codfish is boiled and served in a pink sauce, with cabbage, potatoes and a salad. Seasonings take up an essential spot within the recipe and are primarily chopped parsley, garlic and olive oil. This dish is reasonably smelly, however oh-so tasty. We now have an easy-to-make bakalar recipe right here if you wish to attempt it.

In Istria, too, codfish is the star of the culinary present on Christmas Eve. They put together it in their very own typical means, although. Istrian Christmas Eve codfish is served in bianco model with olive oil and garlic. It’s a bit like a paté, unfold on freshly made, toasted bread. One other Istrian fish dish eaten on the day earlier than Christmas is known as pasutice. This can be a typical native pasta dish, consisting of square-shaped pasta with salted anchovies or bianco-style codfish, topped with scorching olive oil.

On the Croatian islands, well-liked Christmas Eve dishes embody squid and potatoes baked within the oven, or a stew of tomatoes and conger eel.

Slavonians, then again, typically go for their well-known pike perkelt on Christmas Eve. This scrumptious sort of goulash is made with tons of onions, tomatoes, home made lard and scorching pink peppers (or paprika), a significant staple within the Slavonian weight loss plan.

After their conventional Christmas Eve fish dinner, everybody goes to Midnight Mass, after which comes dwelling to start out the Christmas festivities.

Croatian Recipes Croatian Christmas Cookies | Chasing the Donkey

Croatian Recipes Croatian Christmas Cookies | Chasing the Donkey

Christmas Day Meals In Croatia

If Christmas Eve meals is reasonably sober and low-key in Croatia, on Christmas Day, you may count on the exact opposite. Christmas Day is a real food-fest!

The varieties of meals you may count on to see are sarme (leaves of cabbage full of rice and meat), sausages, and roasted meat of all differing kinds. Suppose roasted pig, turkey or even perhaps a lamb. Your plate can be overflowing with bacon and pancetta, an enormous number of completely different cheeses, and freshly baked bread. Relying on the area, there’s quite a lot of completely different Christmas Day meals loved in Croatia.

In Dalmatia, for instance, a beef stew dish known as pasticada is the everyday Christmas Day meal. Recipes for this typical stew differ all through the Adriatic, although. Some folks put together it with wine to which sugar is added, whereas others go for dessert wine. All types of different substances are added, together with cloves, celery, bacon, carrots and garlic. The dish will get its distinct density and style from dried plums. Historically, home made gnocchi accompanies the pasticada, making for a hearty and belly-filling Christmas Day meal.

Elsewhere in Croatia, notably within the Zagreb area and northern Adriatic, the Christmas menu options roasted turkey and home made mlinci pasta. The turkey is full of fillings ready with garlic, bread, apples, onions, celery, parsley and even rooster liver.

In Slavonia, folks historically eat roast suckling pig, served with an Olivier salad, which is a mixture of veggies, eggs, and mayonaise. In Međimurje, the culinary centerpiece is duck stuffed with porridge and buckwheat, whereas cooked pork and boiled cabbage is the normal Christmas Day meal in Lika.

Croatia Christmas Desserts

After all, we are able to’t neglect in regards to the million various kinds of conventional Croatian Christmas cookies and muffins. In case you’re nonetheless not full in spite of everything that, there’s loads of choices to fulfill your candy tooth, from orahnjača walnut rolls and makovnjača poppy seed rolls to čupacvi muffins and cat’s eyes cake.

As you may see, Croatian Christmas recipes, meals and traditions differ from place to position, household to household, and area to area, however one factor is for certain – Christmas in Croatia is a particular time certainly.  

Christmas in Croatia Traditions | Chasing the Donkey Croatia Travel Blog

Christmas in Croatia Traditions | Chasing the Donkey Croatia Travel Blog

How Do You Say Merry Christmas In Croatian

Probably the most used Christmas greetings in Croatian is “Sretan Bozic”, that means Merry Christmas in Croatian. Click on under to listen to the way it sounds.

It’s A Lengthy Christmas Season In Croatia

The Croatian Christmas season involves an finish on the sixth of  January, which is Epiphany Day. At the present time is the feast day of the Three Kings visiting Jesus. For much longer than we have a good time it in Australia, that’s for certain!

Examine Out These Christmas Markets In Croatia For A Jolly Good Time

Advent In Zagreb Christmas_ People Walking

Advent In Zagreb Christmas_ People Walking

Creation is a celebratory time of yr for a lot of international locations all over the world. It’s time spent making ready for the Christmas vacation and is a long-standing custom amongst Christians throughout the globe. A Croatian Christmas is steeped in spiritual symbolism, notably celebrated by lighting candles which can be positioned on an creation wreath. It’s a time to have a good time the start of Jesus Christ and international locations the world over have a good time this particular time of yr. Croatia is not any exception. 

Throughout Croatia, from Rovinj to Osijek and Dubrovnik, you’ll discover cities and villages celebrating, and plenty of placed on unbelievable shows. Along with the spiritual elements, cities remodel into festive delights with decorations that adorn metropolis squares and buildings, whereas Christmas markets spring up. 

Christmas markets in Croatia come to life with meals, mulled wine, and items.

These traditions have been occurring for hundreds of years and are nonetheless going sturdy in the present day. Let’s check out only a few of the numerous locations to get pleasure from a typical Croatia Christmas market.

Creation In Zagreb (Creation u Zagrebu)

Kamen Otok Advent U Zagrebu Croatia Travel BlogKamen Otok Advent U Zagrebu Croatia Travel BlogKameni Otok Creation U Zagrebu – Look Out For the Mortar & Pestle

Town of Zagreb celebrates the season of Creation, and it’s an actual spotlight of Christmas in Croatia for us locals. Creation u Zagrebu, because it’s recognized in Croatian, is a grand and colourful affair, that includes hundreds of Zagreb Christmas lights. It’s precisely such as you would count on to see on a film display screen.

The Zagreb Christmas markets primarily happen within the metropolis’s squares and metropolis middle. The wealthy artistry of the handmade crafts dotted across the Christmas stalls was an excessive amount of for me final yr. I bought far too many trinkets. A number of cultural societies entertain passersby with stunning music from native choirs, dancing, and stay music. The performers are all wearing Christmas regalia and Croatian Christmas carols waft via the air, setting the tone for the season.

Whilst you pay attention, you may window-shop or purchase seasonal items and different gadgets at most of the outlets and shops across the squares. If that isn’t sufficient, strap in your boots and head out onto the Zagreb ice skating rink that’s arrange in Ban Jelačić Sq.. Visiting Zagreb  in December is the excellent approach to get into the Christmas spirit.

Learn all about Creation u Zagrebu / Creation in Zagreb right here

Price: FREE admission
Zagreb Christmas Market Dates: Creation in Zagreb opens 28th Nov 2015 until sixth Jan 2016
The place to remain: Discover a resort in Zagreb. We suggest Lodge Esplanade, it’s the place we stayed after we visited the markets in Zagreb and we liked this resort.
Native Tip: Look out for the Kameni Otok stand, they promote gadgets produced from Brački Kamen (Stone from Brač). There’s a cool mortar and pestle, and a wall clock I’ve my eyes on!

Creation In Belišće

Christmas In Croatia_ Christmas MarketsChristmas In Croatia_ Christmas MarketsA Croatian Christmas is all about household.

Not precisely scorching on everybody’s ‘Christmas in Croatia’ must-do checklist, is Belišće. All through the month of December, you can find numerous occasions which can be a joyous fruits deliberate and carried out by a lot of the residents from the city, suburbs, and surrounding areas. The folks of Belišće actually worth coming collectively and being part of the Christmas in Croatia celebrations.

The townspeople all participate within the every day occasions organized by many civic teams, city establishments, golf equipment, and college choirs. All of it leads as much as the favored Croatian Christmas live performance and honest that features many sporting occasions on the native ice rink. Creation and Christmas on this metropolis creates a way of neighborhood and togetherness. They really feel that this time is essential for the neighborhood because it fosters unity and goodwill. You truly really feel a way of household at these stunning celebrations.

Price: FREE admission
Dates: Creation in Belišće is from 1st December 2015 till 31st December 2015
The place to remain: Discover a resort close by.

Creation In Marija Bistrica

Marija Bistric_The Basilica of Our Lady of Bistrica CroatiaMarija Bistric_The Basilica of Our Lady of Bistrica CroatiaBasilica of Our Woman of Bistrica Shrine

If you wish to spend a non secular Christmas in Croatia, head to Marija Bistrica, arguably essentially the most non secular place in Croatia. Creation in Marija Bistrica is widely known within the central sq. of the city, and it facilities round a conventional celebration.  Lots of the outlets, in addition to the bushes and buildings, are lovingly adorned with lights and wonderful decor.

Native artisans current conventional crafts and maintain particular workshops primarily for youngsters, as they’re a big focus of the season. Probably the most anticipated occasion takes place on December 6, St. Nicholas’ Day, the place the city’s kids obtain a present from St. Nick himself. It’s a joyous and enjoyable event for each boys, women, and grown-ups.

Learn all about Marija Bistrica and our journey to this stunning city right here.

Price: FREE admission
Dates: Creation in Marija Bistrica is from 28th November 2015 till 20th December 2015
The place to remain: Discover a resort close by.

Creation In Break up

Christmas in Croatia Advent in Split Croatia | Chasing the Donkey Croatia Travel BlogChristmas in Croatia Advent in Split Croatia | Chasing the Donkey Croatia Travel BlogCreation in Break up. Photograph credit score: Break up Vacationer Board

December in Break up is a superb time of the yr to go to. With temperatures of round 60 levels Fahrenheit (15 Celsius), you may simply spend your Christmas in Croatia hanging out on the Riva by the ocean. Cool, huh? Simply make sure you convey a coat and seize a glass of mulled wine.

A Christmas in Break up, Croatia sees bustling Christmas markets stuffed with stands promoting conventional Croatian Christmas meals, souvenirs and drinks all day lengthy. Maintain an eye fixed out for these scrumptious Croatian Christmas cookies made by locals. In the course of the night, safe a place middle stage for the festive concert events and folklore performances. Be a part of the enjoyable on the Fb group right here. In case you like ice skating, head to Spaladium Enviornment‬ and lace up your skates.

Price: FREE admission
Dates: Creation in Break up is from 1st December 2015 till 11 January 2015
The place to remain: Discover a resort close by.

Creation In Dubrovnik

Christmas in Croatia: Choir in ZagrebChristmas in Croatia: Choir in ZagrebChristmas in Croatia: One of many stalls in Zagreb. Photograph Credit score Zagreb TZ

This UNESCO-protected fortified Outdated City involves life throughout December. A Dubrovnik Christmas begins with Creation workshops for teenagers, and the Feast of St Nicholas the place you’ll see all of the native kids out celebrating. There are a number of different occasions, together with the massive occasion, the Creation live performance held at Saint Blaise’s Church. Be aware that’s is tough to seek out on-line info on this Christmas in Croatia occasion, however belief me, it does occur annually.

Creation In Delnice


Priceless household moments with enjoyable family-friendly occasions within the Gorski Kotar space are held every weekend in December. Streets lined in snow, woods fires burning and mulled wine, sausages and cookies are calling your title.

The residents of Delnice, a captivating little city and, in truth, the very best city in Croatia, invite you to hitch them within the Village of Bake Mraz. On show are livestock, carriage rides and artistic workshops and actions for teenagers. They will even meet Mrs. Santa Claus!

Every Friday and Saturday night, the stage is stuffed with native performers, concert events and varied exhibitions, whereas on Saturday and Sunday, varied daytime occasions entertain kids and adults alike. In the primary sq., you’ll discover a meals honest stuffed with home merchandise, in addition to distinctive Croatian souvenirs.

This yr, the Creation celebrations in Delnice happen on 4 completely different weekends, from 11th November via 29th December.

Creation In Štrigova

The celebration of Creation in Štrigova, a city positioned simply kilometers from Slovenia, provides it an air of consolation and homeliness. There are a number of small celebrations within the month of December, all main as much as essentially the most celebrated one in all all, Christmas Day.

The Christmas Truthful is by far the preferred occasion. In the course of the honest, the city seems like one thing out of a Charles Dickens novel. You can see home made crafts, meals, and luxuriate in stay concert events held in St. Mary Magdalene Church. The festivals keep it up to New 12 months’s, full with fireworks and extra celebration. The lights, sounds, and smells give life to this city’s conventional Christmas season.

Croatians love Creation and Christmas! It is among the most extremely celebrated and essential instances of the yr. From the lighting of Creation candles to the music and smells that waft via the air ushering in Christmas, everybody round feels the joy and surprise of the Christmas season. It could make even the Grinchiest or Scroogiest individual really feel the spirit of Christmas once more.

Have you ever ever celebrated Christmas in Croatia? Which Christmas Markets in Croatia would you recommend?

From my household to yours, have a beautiful, protected and Merry Christmas. 

Different Methods To Take pleasure in The Holidays In The Balkans



Related posts

Absolute Should-Do Issues To Do In Bulgaria


Pelješac Peninsula: The place You’ll Discover Wine & Oysters


Klis Fortress: Recreation Of Thrones Tour In One Of Croatia’s Oldest Strongholds