September 29, 2020 – One surprised shopper couldn’t help but laugh and photograph as telltale signs of Christmas in Croatia appeared this week over her local supermarket
As long had been suspected by city residents, it has been officially announced that Zagreb’s world-famous Advent celebrations will this year go ahead. Replanned under epidemiological guidelines, kućice (small vending houses), stages and spectacular lights will once again bring the sights, scents, sounds, tastes and cheer of the festive season to the capital this December.
Advent in Zagreb © Julien Duval
In the era of Coronavirus, you might be able to ask people to be a bit quieter on their nights out, but there is absolutely no chance you can hold back Christmas in Croatia.
With Zagreb Advent now lasting for over one month – from the last day of November to the end of January’s first week – the festive season is already stretched quite far, perhaps reflecting just how much residents enjoy Christmas in Croatia. But, this year, the marking of Yuletide has started earlier than ever before.
The setting of the late summer sun seems to have been the signal for one supermarket to begin bringing in the Christmas cheer. One surprised shopper couldn’t help but laugh and photograph yesterday when she saw that Christmas decorations had already appeared over her local supermarket in Dubrava, east Zagreb. It is only the first week of autumn.
If you are invited into someone’s home over Christmas in Croatia, you simply must go – the atmosphere and food are usually fantastic © Pictureday
Christmas in Croatia is an excellent time to visit. Zagreb’s Advent has consistently been voted the best of its kind across Europe. The season of goodwill in the country is one where gifts are exchanged, homes visited, feasts shared and superb culture enjoyed. As a Catholic nation with a strong sense of family, it is also a time where religion is observed and when you get to see all of your relatives. Many visitors to Christmas in Croatia are lucky enough to be invited into the home while they are here, and such an opportunity should not be turned down. Being among family members and friends, eating traditional and homecooked Croatian food is an unforgettable Christmas experience. But, there are some rules.
Religious tradition is an integral part of Christmas in Croatia. In almost every home, no meat, only fish, is eaten on Christmas Eve © Vargazs
In the UK, it’s very common to greet friends across many days of December with “Merry Christmas”. You don’t do that in Croatia. If you do, you’ll be met with a look that lies anywhere between confusion and concern for your mental health. The greeting of “Merry Christmas” is strictly reserved for Christmas Day itself.
The root of this adherence to tradition is doubtless the acknowledgment that Christmas in Croatia is, above all, a religious festival. Croatians are often more attuned than most to commercialism creeping into what remains a deeply-observed marking of Jesus’s birth. Yet, somehow, this most sacred of Catholic holidays manages to comfortably sit, side by side with seasonal celebrations that extend further each year. Although, the first week of autumn as the start of Christmas in Croatia must be the earliest one yet.