Croatians have celebrated Christmas for nearly twelve centuries. Traveling through the land at Christmas is a treat with each region retaining its own unique traditions. An official public holiday is provided for Christmas Day each year.
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Evergreen trees, wreaths and boughs grace most Croatian homes at Christmas time. The food served in homes varies, but Christmas is a time for baking and Croatian Kuglof is just one of the many desserts that weigh down the table on Christmas Day.
Nearly everyone observes Christmas with a traditional display of wheat, sprouting since St. Lucy’s Day on 13 December and tied with red, white and blue ribbon.
One of the oldest traditions, the badnjak, is dying out. The badnjak is known as a Yule log in other parts of the world and commemorates the fire started by the shepherds of Bethlehem to keep Baby Jesus warm. Faithful city dwellers, unable to cut a log from the forest, and without a hearth to burn it, have a symbolic log instead.
Everyone enjoys the Christmas events that start with the lighting of the first Advent candle. These events include:
- The Zagreb Christmas Market on Ban Jelacic Square
- Christmas fairytale in the Park Učka – featuring a rare St. Nicholas appearance
- The boat burning at Komiža on Vis Island, held every 6 December