Croatians don’t need an excuse to put on a decent spread. Weddings, birthdays, the birth of a child or just popping in to catch up on the gossip, one will never leave hungry. Christmas is no exception…
For Croatians the big day in the Christmas period is “Badnji Dan” (Christmas Eve Day) and “Badnja Večer” (Christmas Eve night). The term badnjak means “to be awake”, hence referring to staying awake all through the night until Christmas Day.
The tradition of bringing a log into the house and placing it on the fire on badnjak, and keeping it burning throughout Christmas Day, has been going on in regions in Croatia for centuries.
Another old tradition is sowing of pšenica (wheat seeds) in a bowl of water (usually on St. Lucy’s day), which will grow until Christmas and is then used to decorate the table on Christmas. The wheat is trimmed and usually wrapped with a red, white and blue ribbon of the Croatian tricolour.
Since Christmas Eve is a fasting day, traditionally on Christmas Eve Croatians eat a small meal in the evening.
On Christmas Day Croatians traditionally prepare turkey, lamb, roasted pig, sarma (minced meat wrapped in cabbage), peppers stuffed with minced meat, salads, freshly baked bread and traditional Christmas deserts such as fritule (pastry resembling doughnuts), strudel, walnut and poppy-seed cakes and many, many more delights.
Here are 10 things you will likely see on the table over the festive period in Croatian households:
2. Fiš paprikaš
3. French Salad
5. Duck & Mlinci
6. Roast Pork