Welcoming Winter Solstice in Croatia

Total Croatia News

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December 19, 2018 — In the Northern hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs every year between December 20th and December 23rd, and it is the shortest and thus the darkest day of the year.

This year’s winter solstice (or suncostaj in Croatian) falls on Friday, December 21st, and according to Zvjezdarnica, here in Croatia, the sun will rise at 7.36 AM and set at 4.12 PM.

The term solstice has its roots in the Latin word solstitium, which literally translates to “when the Sun stops; stands still.” This is because, on this day, as seen from the Earth, the Sun reaches its southern-most position and seems to stand still at the Tropic of Capricorn until it turns around, i.e. reverses its direction.

Throughout history, to mark the beginning of a new year and welcome nature’s springtime rebirth, many ancient civilizations celebrated the winter solstice with a number of different feasts, fasts, and fires.

These pre-Christian traditions, many of which have roots in European paganism, have survived to this day and are nowadays interwoven with the Christian beliefs and culture even in modern-day Croatia.

One such folklore tradition is the so-called koledarenje, a term denoting colinde or winter solstice songs — a type of Christmas caroling widespread throughout the Balkans, especially among Indo-European nations. In Croatia, this tradition is particularly emblematic of Primorje, Istria, Lika, and Dalmatia.

The term koledarenje comes from the old Slavic word koleda (lit. new year) while probably the most known Croatian koledari are the ones from Dubrovnik.

Koledarenje is one of the oldest customs in Croatia, and the traditional period to sing these carols is from St Thomas’s Day on December 21st, until the morning of Christmas Day.

Here is the video of Dubrovnik’s youngest koledari. Ironically, while our president named Kolinda apparently can’t sing to save her life, these Dubrovnik children sure can.


If you happen to be in the area, and in the mood for celebrating the 2018 winter solstice, don’t miss the Dubrovnik Winter Festival.

Stay tuned for more related content by following TCN’s dedicated page.


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