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Easter 2018 and 2019

Easter is viewed by many as the most important of all Christian holidays. And in the strongly Roman Catholic country of Croatia, Easter indeed is kept as the holiest day of the year.

20182 AprMonEaster Monday
201922 AprMonEaster Monday

The celebrations begin with the commencement of Holy Week on Palm Sunday. In Croatia, however, palms are hard to come by, so “local branches” are used instead. Olive branches and sprigs from rosemary plants are used to make wreaths, which are beautified with colourful ribbons and flowers. Sometimes, the branches are formed into a cross instead and taken to a church to be blessed by a priest. Blessed “poma” crosses are thought to ward of demons and prevent bouts of bad luck.

On Good Friday, a special meal of fish, the type of fish varying region by region. Beans, dried fruits, a fruit-filled kind of jam known as “compote,” cheesy strudels topped with nuts and poppy seeds, and other “meatless delicacies.”

On Holy Saturday, an even bigger and meat-rich meal is consumed. Ham, roast lamb, sausages, Easter eggs, radishes, horseradish, onions, and a special Easter bread called “pinca” are often on the menu. Pinca, also known as “sirnica,” is almost sweet enough to be a cake, is filled with fruits, and is round with a cross cut into its surface. Many Croats will take a basket full of such foods to church to be blessed at midnight mass and then eaten on Easter Morning.

On Easter Sunday and throughout the Easter season, among the main attractions are the elaborately decorated Croatian Easter eggs known as “pisanice.” In earlier days it was common for young men to give a pisanice to young ladies, but nowadays, they are usually exchanged among friends and family. They typically bear messages like “Happy Easter” and symbols like crosses and doves. They are traditionally painted with natural dyes, especially the juice red beets, and waxes are used to create intricate patterns. Additionally, Croatian Easter eggs are knocked together in a contest to see whose egg will remain unbroken.

Should you visit the land of Croatia for Easter, you will find there are many unique traditions to explore and that they vary from one part of the country to the next. Here are some ideas on what to do:

  • In Korcula, along the Dalmatian Coast, and on offshore isles like Hvar and Brac, there are numerous processions and ceremonial Easter events. You will see people dressed up in cultural clothing, hear Ancient and Medieval hymns being sung, and see re-enactments of Biblical events. Many of these days-long events culminate on Good Friday, and there are special religious organisations dedicated to continuing them.
  • In the midlands of Croatia, many villages hold gigantic bonfires this time of year, and in other places, people bring out an “olden style pistol” called a “kubura” and shoot it off into the air. Finally, you will also hear special, festive Easter noisemakers being rattled. Some are simple, just pieces of metal attached to wood boards, while others involve complex wheels and inventive mechanisms.
  • Eat an “Easter Baby,” or “Easter Bread Doll.” These consist of sweetened, braided bread that has an Easter egg cooked into it on one end. The egg is normally red, though it can be any number of other colors. The “doll” resembles, somewhat, a baby in swaddling cloth and is meant to represent the baby Jesus. While originating from Istria and Primorje, you can find these bready dolls in other parts of the country.

Celebrating Easter in Croatia is a unique experience you will never forget, but be sure to book your flight and accommodations early since this is a busy time of year.