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15 foods & drinks you will find on a Croatian Christmas table

Christmas Croatian Style (Photo: CroChef/Zagreb Tourist Board)

It is no secret Croatians love their food. There is usually no need to wait for special occasions for an impressive feast.

Christmas is a special time though.

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 the 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.

Tradition of Christmas customs in Croatia 

Christmas wheat

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 a roast – either turkey, lamb, pig or duck.

Winter dishes like sarma and stews are also eaten over the festive period. And an abundance of traditional Christmas desserts.

Here are 15 things you will likely see on the table over the festive period in Croatian households:

1. Bakalar

Bakalar (Photo: Fini Recepti)

Bakalar can be done many ways, like in a stew or just with potatoes and garlic (Photo: Fini Recepti)

2. French Salad

Also known as Olivier or Russian salad with mayo, egg, peas, carrots…

3. Sarma

Sarma – stuffed sour cabbage rolls with mashed potatoes (Photo: CroChef/Zagreb Tourist Board)

4. Turkey / Duck & Mlinci

Turkey with mlinci

5. Roast Pork

Roast pork

6. Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers with mince and rice for Christmas Croatian style in Australia and New Zealand (Photo: CroChef/Zagreb Tourist Board)

7. Fiš Paprikaš / Soup

Spicey fish stew is a popular dish in the east of Croatia in Slavonia (Photo: Fini Recepti)

Soup (Photo: CroChef/Zagreb Tourist Board)

8. Cold Meats

Cheese, prsut, olives, salamis starters (photo credit: Tim Ertl)

9. Fritule

Fritule (Photo: Sandro Sklepić)

10. Makovnjača / Orahnjača

Orahnjača – Walnut roll (Photo credit: Roberta F under CC)

11. Kiflice

Vanilla half-moons biscuits (Photo: CroChef/Zagreb Tourist Board)

12. Strudel

Strudel is another favourite (Photo: Fini Recepti)

13. Kroštule

Kroštule (Photo: Blazej Pieczynski/CC)

14. Wine

Plenty of wine on the table

15. Rakija

Rakija – brandy made from fermented fruit

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