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Christmas customs in Croatia

In less than 10 days we'll be celebrating Christmas, so in case your free vacay days brought you to Croatia, here are some of the most important Xmas customs you should be aware of. 

Croatia is predominantly a Catholic country with 87% of the population identifying themselves as Catholic, so it's no wonder that Christmas customs are an important part of Croatian tradition. In less than 10 days we'll be celebrating Christmas, so in case your free vacay days brought you to Croatia, here are some of the most important Xmas customs you should be aware of. 


🗓 Advent Sunday 
Advent Sunday, also called the First Sunday, marks the beginning of the season of Advent. On this day, the first (of four) candles in the Advent wreath is lit. It's traditional to have an Advent wreath made of straw or evergreen twigs which has four candles. With each passing week, a new candle is lightened, suggesting the upcoming arrival of Christmas Eve. The candles represent the Creation of the world, the Embodiment of Christ, the Redemption on the Cross and the End of All Things.

🗓 6th December – St. Nicholas' Day
On the eve of St. Nicholas' Day, children polish their boots and leave them on the window sill, hoping that St. Nicholas will bring them gifts, usually sweets. But those children who were a bit naughty throughout the year get birch sticks instead! St. Nicholas is accompanied by Krampus, a hairy demon. While Nicholas rewards the good children, Krampus leaves sticks for the children who behaved badly so that their parents can discipline them!

🗓 13th December – St. Lucia's Day
St. Lucia was the one who brought gifts in southern and north-eastern Croatia, while children in central and northern Croatia used to receive gifts on St. Nicholas' Day. No gifts were given or received on Christmas day. But nowadays, boy do we like to spoil our kids! Kids today get presents on St. Nicholas' Day, St. Lucia's Day and on Christmas Day!

🗓 24th December – Christmas Eve (Badnjak)
Traditionally, this is the most important part of an entire Christmas celebration. The origin of the word ''badnjak'' is linked to the concept of staying awake. The main celebrations start on Christmas Eve with Badnjak. A traditional yule log is brought into the family home that is supposed to be burning during the whole Christmas Day. Nowadays, the custom of lighting a badnjak has remained only in rural areas of the country. The traditional menu for Christmas Eve includes codfish (bakalar in Croatian).

🗓 25th December – Christmas 
On Christmas, the dinner typically consists of sarme (cabbage rolls, stuffed with meat and rice), all kinds of roasted meat, domestic sausages, slanina (bacon) and panceta (pancetta), cheese and pršut (prosciutto, typical for Dalmatia) or kulen (a type of spicy pork sausages, typical for Slavonia) as well as all sorts of cakes, baked on Christmas Eve.

🗓 6th January – Epiphany
Known as Bogojavljanje in Croatian or Sveta tri kralja (Holy three kings), these dates represent the end of the Christmas season. On this day, people usually take down Christmas trees and decorations. ☹
That's about it, and remember most used Christmas greeting in Croatia is ''Sretan Bozic'' meaning Merry Christmas! 🎄💖