Christmas Celebration in Croatia

How is Celebrate Christmas in Croatia

Christmas in Croatia is a cherished and festive holiday, celebrated with a mix of religious traditions and customs unique to the country. Here's how Christmas is typically celebrated in Croatia:

Advent Season

The Christmas season in Croatia begins with Advent, a period of preparation for Christmas that starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Advent wreaths with candles are often lit each Sunday leading up to Christmas.

Christmas Markets

Croatian towns and cities host Christmas markets, which feature a variety of festive stalls selling gifts, decorations, and holiday treats. The most famous Christmas market in Croatia is held in the capital, Zagreb.

Advent Calendar

Advent calendars are popular in Croatian households, with children opening one door each day leading up to Christmas to reveal small surprises or treats.

Nativity Scenes (Jaslice)

Nativity scenes, known as "Jaslice," are an important Christmas decoration in Croatia. They are often displayed in homes, churches, and public places, with intricate figurines depicting the Nativity story.

Christmas Trees

Christmas trees are commonly displayed in Croatian homes, often decorated with lights, ornaments, and tinsel. Some households also feature a "badnjak," a branch of an oak tree, which is lit on Christmas Eve.

Midnight Mass (Ponoćka Misa)

Attending Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve is an important part of the celebration for many Croatians. The service is usually followed by a festive meal.

Traditional Foods

Christmas Eve dinner, known as "Badnjak," is a significant event. Traditional dishes include fish (often cod or carp), cabbage rolls, sauerkraut, potatoes, and various types of bread and pastries. Desserts like "krafne" (doughnuts) and "fritule" (small fried doughnuts) are also enjoyed.


Exchanging gifts is a common Christmas tradition in Croatia, often taking place on Christmas Eve. Children believe that "Djed Božićnjak" (Grandfather Christmas) or "Sveta Lucija" (St. Lucia) brings them presents.


Caroling is a beloved tradition in Croatia, with groups of children and adults going from house to house to sing Christmas carols. Carolers are often rewarded with small gifts, money, or treats.

Straw-Boys (Starček)

In some regions of Croatia, straw-boys or "Starček" visit homes during the Christmas season. They are usually young boys dressed in traditional costumes and masks, and they may perform short plays or skits.

Charity and Acts of Kindness

Christmas is a time for giving to the less fortunate. Many Croatians engage in acts of charity, such as donating to those in need or participating in charitable initiatives.

Candle Lighting

Some families light candles in the windows of their homes on Christmas Eve to symbolize welcoming the Holy Family and spreading the message of Christ's birth.

Christmas in Croatia is a time of warmth, family togetherness, and traditions that reflect the country's deep Christian heritage. The rich customs and festive celebrations make it a special holiday in the country.

In Croatia, Christmas is observed with much fervor. Since the ninth century, Christianity has been the dominant religion in the country. Like most Western nations, Christmas is celebrated here on 25th December but the preparations for the festival begin since the beginning of the Advent. Women of the house traditionally start baking cookies and cakes from this time.

But the festivities begin here in real earnestness on St. Lucy's Day (December 13) when a very popular Christmas tradition is observed in the country. The mother or female head of every individual family plants wheat seeds in a round dish or plate of shallow water on this day. Normally these germinate by Christmas Eve (December 24th) growing about 8 inches tall, and that is when these are tied together with "trobojnica" (ribbons) of red, blue and white colour, colours of the Croatian flag. These are spread around the floors and under the tablecloth for the Christmas dinner. Sometimes a candle is lit and placed within the wheat along with other symbolic items. It is said that the light that is seen through the wheat is a symbol of the soul within every person. According to popular custom, a prosperous new year is predicted if the wheat grows strong and green by Christmas Eve.

It is also on Christmas Eve that the Christmas tree is set up and decorations made in every home though many families begin the process days in advance.

25th December is mainly seen as a day of holy observances in Croatia and hence, though gift-giving exists during Christmas it is not a too popular tradition in the country. But there are no dearth of gifts for Croatian children, who recieve their presents around the time of Christmas even though the occassions and reasons happen to be different. In the northern and central regions of Croatia, it is St. Nicholas who fills the boots of young children with gifts on December 6th (St. Nicholas Day). In southern and north eastern Croatia, it is St. Lucy who is being seen as the traditional bringer of presents. On December 24th, the Christmas Eve, Santa Claus and the baby Jesus are believed to be the visitors to many homes, leaving gifts for good kids.

Feasts are an important and highly anticipated aspect of the Croatian Christmas celebrations. Stuffed cabbage, sarma, Dalmatian pot roast, pasticada, walnut roll, badnji kruh (fresh bread), purica, smlincima and suckling pig form some of the main items of the Christmas menu in many Croatian homes. Christmas Eve dishes generally comprise of cuisines like "Bianco and biudetto" (cod fish), smelts and salted sardines while the Christmas dinner consists of such delicacies as stuffed cabbage, turkey, zagorje noodles and fig cake.

On Christmas Day, Croats wish each other 'Sretan Bozic' which is the Croatian way of saying "Merry Christmas".

The Christmas celebrations officially come to a close here on January 6 (Epiphany), when local priests visit the homes of the parishioners to give them their blessings. Christmas trees and decorations are taken down on the same day in almost every home.

Christmas in Croatia

Back to Christmas Around the World Main