Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes


November 28, 2014

Discover Croatia: My Most Memorable Christmas

My Nana was Christmas. We all gathered at her house and celebrated or were dysfunctional together, depending on which Christmas you popped on by. But when she passed away two years ago last Christmas just wasn’t the same, everyone went their separate ways and it seemed like Christmas lost its spirit.


So I was determined this year I was going to discover a more traditional christmas than the western, buying gifts for people you see once a year christmas. I was going back to the old country for a Croatian (Catholic and a little Christian Orthodox) Christmas.

This would be my first non summer Christmas, my first Christmas without my parents, it was definitely going to be different but I was going to find the heart and spirit of Christmas no matter what. The first new tradition I found (and love) is the planting of wheat on St Lucia day. I loved watching how quickly it grew and tending to it. Don’t worry if you can’t grow one there are numerous people in Makarska and Split I saw selling them.


Next began the making of the sweets and by sweets I mean biscuits and my absolute favourite Breskvice. Breskva means peaches and I sat with my aunt and her friend as we became a conveyor belt making them. Rolling the dough, sharing gossip, baking, laughing, scooping out the insides, watching Turkish soaps, putting in the mixture, gossiping some more and dying them in the food colouring. I have figured out the reason everyone says it takes so long to make them.  We made well over a hundred and the fact I ate more than my shares proves I wasn’t sick of the sight of them.


Then came the calling on neighbours and friends. Exchanging of wine and eating walnut pastries and breskvice and almond biscuits while discussing the latest news and sharing stories. You would turn up at someones house and they would already be entertaining but you would be added to the table and share in the biscuits and of course prsut and no Christmas is complete without French salad. You have a feeling the tables never stay empty as once someone leaves someone else takes their place on these cool pre Christmas evenings in warm kitchens and dining rooms.

Then on Christmas Eve with the tree all decorated you sit down to Bakalar soup and fish pate (there is no meat on this day) and numerous other fish dishes with family around the table. And at just before midnight you head along with most of the village to the Church and discover it as you have never seen it before, full of people and decorated for Christmas with tree and all and the choir singing into the dark night. It may have been my first Catholic mass but it was beautiful and I will remember it always. And as you leave you find still more people enjoying the service outside as the church is so full and now we all exchange Christmas greetings before heading home to the warmth of our beds. And prepare ourselves for our big Christmas lunch (full of meat this time).

And not only did I get one Christmas but at the beginning of January we got Christmas again with our big fish lunch and meat lunch the following day to celebrate Christian Orthodox Christmas for my aunt.


I think I found the spirit of Christmas again not in gifts and things but in traditions of coming together in warm places with warm greetings over food. That is what Christmas should be in people, not things we get, and that was the best present my old country Croatian christmas gave me.

You can follow more of Lisa’s adventures on twitterInstagram or Pinterest


If you would like to join this month’s big fat Christmas Link up – more details can be found here!  It’s so easy to join, you can use a new or old blog post and link up at the bottom of my post Christmas post from the 1st December through to the 7th December.

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