Christmas Advent Traditions in Split and throughout all of Croatia remain high on the list of most loved and favoured periods of the year.
With close to 90% of Croatians identifying as Catholic, it’s no surprise that Christmas remains one of the most important holidays. Makovnjača (poppy seed rolls), Christmas trees, and candles are all staples of Christmas in Croatia. Even though celebrations officially start on Christmas Eve and last for 14 days, in reality, the festivities run on a different schedule: as soon as December arrives, the season of Advent kicks off. Homes are decorated, public squares are adorned in glittering decorations, and the air is filled with Christmas carols and the smell of mulled wine spiced with cinnamon and cloves.
The month of December is so magical…Christmas lights, churches filled with young and old, Christmas concerts, traditional Christmas treats, food, and mulled wine. In Split I was fortunate to be invited to the lighting of the four Advent candles, held on each Sunday before Christmas…and amid much ceremony and authentic Christmas fare, all prepared by some of our leading Dalmatian chefs for our total enjoyment.
Officially starting four weeks before Christmas, Advent marks the beginning of the holiday season. It is traditional to make (or buy) a wreath of evergreen branches or straw, on top of which sit four candles. With each passing Sunday during December, families light another candle, traditionally during the Sunday lunch. Today at the first lighting, the candles were beautifully centered, surrounded by Dalmatian figs, bay leaves, red Christmas berries, and natural adornments…designed by Olja Martincic.
Christmas shopping is always a pleasure here in Split at this time of year with so many handicrafts and homemade delicacies to choose from…No need for highly expensive gifts. I prefer to wander through the Christmas markets of the local artisans, where one can find a never-ending collection of exquisite handmade crafts.
In the evenings we wrap up well, warm coats, scarves, boots, caps, and gloves! I love the winter wardrobe…and Split is well known for fine fashion, the latest shoe trends, and designer sunglasses…although I still love my little Dior sunglasses from way back…2002 I think! Christmas shopping at night is truly delightful…and the festive lights are so magical…turning the city into a winter wonderland…..
At home, we decorate in a similar style with Advent candles burning, and wheat seeds are sown…sprouting to signify the new life of baby Jesus Christ. The seeds are placed in decorative ceramic bowls, decorating tables, or window-sills. My Christmas decoration was made by hand…..we collected the pine cones, painting them silver and the nuts and acorns were nice and natural additions…simple yet full of Christmas warmth.
An evening during Advent at Restaurant Dvor 2022, lighting the 3rd Advent Candle
Finally, it is Christmas Eve, a day and evening to prepare the Bakalar (dried salted cod )that has been soaked in water over the previous day, then cooked in various ways according to preference, followed by freshly made ‘fritule’ (small spoonfuls of doughnut batter, dropped into hot oil and fried to golden perfection. The churches are filled to capacity…Tonight we make sure we are a little earlier than usual to avoid the crowds of worshippers at the cathedral of St Dominus, on Peristil, the heart, and soul of ancient Split.
On the Split Pjaca during Advent and Olja Matinčić, Organizer of Gastro Advent
Ahhh! The entire month of Christmas Advent is definitely one of my most favourite times of year in Split. I feel very blessed and fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be part of this city; its tradition, people, wonderful locally produced and prepared foods and wines, and sharing time with so many good friends. Thank you SPLIT!
WATCH ADVENT IN SPLIT EVENT VIDEO ON THIS LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MAgwsqOv3g