Traditional Christmas Greeting: "Sretan Bozic"
Location: Eastern Europe
Tree Type: Traditional
Decorations: Though families in Croatia have always decorated their homes with greenery, Christmas trees are a relatively recent holiday tradition. They are customarily ornamented with fruit, nuts and sweets as well as glass figures, colored thread, paper chains, lanterns and candles. Licitar hearts baked from dough also make up an important part of many Croatian Christmas trees. Colorful designs, small mirrors, and short sayings are added to the red dough after it is made into a heart shape. Though they're edible, these hearts are usually not eaten.
Traditions: Croatia is a country with many different holiday traditions. Visitors will hear different carols, eat different foods and see different decorations in different regions. In many parts of the country, Christmas celebrations begin on December 13 with St. Lucy's day when families plant wheat seeds in a plate of shallow water. They grow to be eight inches tall by Christmas Eve and are tied together with a red, blue and white ribbon called trobojnica. In some areas candles are lit and placed in the middle of the straw. The glow that shines through the wheat represents the soul within every person.
Straw, symbolizing fertility and Christ's birth in the crèche, is also a significant Christmas tradition in many parts of Croatia. On Christmas Eve, straw is spread around the floors and under the tablecloth for the Christmas dinner. Families make wishes and often sit in the straw as they light and watch the Yule log. Children in Croatia receive Christmas presents at many different times and from many different people. St. Nicholas brings the first children their presents on December 6th and St. Lucy delivers gifts to others on the 13th. Santa Claus and the baby Jesus have also begun to make rounds in some parts of Croatia on Christmas day and Christmas Eve.