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We continue to elaborate Croatian Christmas customs and culture attached to this merry season of the year. For the first part of this joyful exploration, click here.

St. Barbara’s Fine wishes

The Feast Day of Saint Barbara is celebrated of December 4th, and is followed by “cestitarenje” or “visits of good wishes.” Basically, it is a custom of visiting your friends and relatives, wishing them good health and abundance in the following year. Children, both of human and animal kind, are also wished for. In Slavonia, you’d come to neighbor’s home saying something like “Praise Jesus! I wish you happy Feast Day of St. Barbara! I hope that you have more children in the upcoming year. And that your cattle calves, your pigs have piglets, your sheep have lambs and your cats have a lot of kittens! Be alive and healthy!” People of Zagorje have a saying “We hope your hens will sit as tightly as we do at the moment,” referring to a fruitful egg production in the upcoming months.

Groups of children would run around Croatian villages and knock on people’s houses, singing songs and having recitations connected with Christmas time. People would gift them dry plums or hazelnuts in the past, while new generations enjoy chocolate and sweets.

Miller’s Celebration

Being a miller in Croatian past was a very profitable job, as majority of people were in agricultural business and relied on this profession to process the crops into the flour. Mills were also easy to adapt into industrial facilities, developing local infrastructure and providing people with new opportunities for work. Contracts with miller were of annual nature, and were traditionally arranged on feast day of St. Nicholas, celebrated on December 6th.

Since the aforementioned day was a very happy occasion for millers, they would usually celebrate it with a large fiesta for family and friends. And if they were called Nikola, they would have another reason for celebration: the so-called “imendan” (“The Name Day”). Basically, every Catholic is named after a certain saint, and on the feast day of the holy individual, a celebration would occur. In some more traditional families, imendan is regarded higher than a person’s birthday.

In any case, if you are called Nikola, or are somehow connected to miller’s profession, a good way of celebrating December 6th is to call your friends and family for a small party. You can even prepare food in “miller’s way”, that is- by using the corn flour and processing the food on open flame.

More Croatian Christmas customs follow!


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