Croatian Culture: You Can’t Do, Eat Or Say That If You’re In Croatia

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Croatian Culture: You Can’t Do, Eat Or Say That If You’re In Croatia

You’ve had a shower, you get dressed, and then you realize the time.  Damn it; you’re late. You grab your keys and head out the door, But wait…..who is watching you? You have wet hair, which means you can’t leave the house if you’re within 50 meters of your Croatian Aunt, Uncle, Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, neighbor – hell you can’t leave the house with wet hair if your Croatian dog is watching.

Dammit, I said ‘hell’… I’ll pay for that one too. I better do the Rosary tonight. Don’t use any curses that relate to God, Jesus or Mary unless you really need to. We did a guide to swearing like a Croatian part one & even worse swearing part two – you can go and read those later to catch up.
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Forgive me father, for I have sinned
Forgive me, father, for I have sinned

I guarantee, if you leave the house with wet hair, that Croatian relative, friend, acquaintance even a stranger who is walking the dog will intervene. Their wet hair detectors will go off, an alarm will sound, and they’ll rush over to you begging (or barking) for you to return to the safety of the indoors before you get pneumonia and die a frozen death.

You can’t leave the house with wet hair. Why may you ask? No, you can’t ask, you must just go back indoors, and whip out that hair dryer.

The Wind Will Kill You

Now that you’ve got dry hair, you can meet your Croatian friends for lunch. Waaaaaaaaait. Wait just a second. Is that a bare neck I see? Perhaps a t-shirt? No jacket, no scarf, no pullover? Back inside you go. Don’t you know (according to Croatian culture) says that a draft or propuh as it’s known in Croatian are deadly? Yes, it will kill you. The draft on your neck is just as ferocious as wet hair. Drafts cause infections, flu and even muscle aches and pains (or so I am told).

My mother-in-law was very lax with this rule in Australia, which left me very unprepared for living in Croatia, where the irrational fear of wind is at epic proportions. Now, I figure that she must have relaxed her approach to pestering about the propuh, because she came to her senses, and now knows that having two windows open at the same time in the bus, car or house creates a lovely fresh breeze, allowing one to breathe and it’s not a death trap.

I live in Dalmatia, where there is a wind known as the Bura, a powerful north-easterly wind that is so strong that when it blows will clear the sky of any clouds, and also uproots giant trees. So on a day when the Bura blows, you must be dressed accordingly. Side note: You can read about how the Bura can also be blamed for you being all kinds of stuff.

If the Bura can do this to a tree... imagine the horror it will cause to your neck...!!!
If the Bura can do this to a tree in my suburb… imagine the horror it will cause to your neck…!!!

According to my sources here in Croatia, the deadly propuh is likely to cause you all kinds of grief,  if that delicate part on the back of your neck is bare when there is just the slightest hint of a draft. In Summer you’re (mostly) safe, in winter, not so much. I’d invest in a few scarves, and leave them in the car, your house and at work. Just.In.Case!

Hair dried, neck covered, you are now safe to leave to attend lunch.

At Lunch, There Are A Few Cultural Things You Need To Remember…

Grace. Not the lady’s name. But the prayer before the meal. When dining with (some) Croatians, you will need to wait for just a second to see if anyone will be saying a little pre-meal prayer. With the majority of Croatians being Catholic, you should know it’s customary for some to say a prayer of thanks before the meal. So wait, just a little to be sure you’re not digging into those stuffed peppers too early.

Hair dried. You’re rugged up on a summers day, and the Prayer said. Now you’re free… Okay, I lied. First, you need to know about what to do when that giant pot of stuffed cabbages has been placed on the table. Listen closely. You should just take one. I know you want three cabbage rolls, but if you take three, you’ll be forced to eat four – maybe even five. Here is why. Croatian hospitality requires the host to ensure that you are completely FULL and happy when having a meal at a friend or relatives house. I don’t often write in CAPS in my blog posts. So when I do, you should heed the warning.

Finished Sarma ready to devour - just take one!
Finished Sarma ready to devour – just take one!

Never Say No

You’d be hard-pressed to find any Croatian family where there is not an emphasis on family, friends, and food. Hospitality towards your guests is critical. Offering drinks, pre-meal snacks, a meal, a second helping, even third helping, cake, coffee, and then more drink to your guests is a must. Then your responsibility in return is not to decline… ever. Saying no would be plain rude.  To avoid being rude (or in some cases being nagged) here is what I suggest you do.

Only Take A Small Portion

Take a small serving the first go, thus allowing plenty of wiggle room in your jeans for that second helping that you will be required to consume. Failure to heed this warning will see you having to hear over and over again how you are too skinny; you must be hungry and so on. Your host may also use guilt to force you into a second helping. My favorite one (yes, I have become one of ‘them’) is “Oh, did you not like the food”? Boom! Host 1-guest 0.

If you have listened to this very sane advice, by this stage you’ve only had one slice of fried eggplant {Pohana balancana} and one cabbage roll {Sarma}- and now you’re about to make your hosts day. Of course, you are still hungry, so when your hosts asks you to take another serving – you eagerly oblige. Everybody wins.

The tricky part is the third serving; you may want one, but chances are you’ve already indulged in two plates of  Sauerkraut {Kiseli Kapus} and yummy Grilled fish {ribe sa žara}, so when that time comes you’ll need to be polite and say no thanks. If you want” to show off, you can use the phrase “ne mogu više, hvala” which means you can’t take (eat) anymore. Word of warning: be sure not to overuse this phrase, as your hosts may come not to believe you.

Do Not Drink Water

Remember that grilled fish we spoke about? If you ate it, don’t, I repeat do not drink a glass of water with your meal. Why? I do not know why. All I know is that you’ll risk your host slapping the water out of your hand, and muttering something about being sick. After 15 years of being with my husband’s Croatian family, no one can tell me why I can’t drink water after eating fish – well seafood of any kind actually. S now I don’t fight it and instead enjoy the homemade wine {vino}.

P1040116
Seafood is tasty… but NOT WITH WATER

 

Flip Flops, Jandals, Thongs, And All Open Toes Footwear Are Banned

A few days ago I had a little rant on our Chasing the Donkey Facebook page, about how it was so nice that the warmer weather has returned, yet I was being nagged about how I was close to death by flip-flop. The act of not wearing appropriate footwear at the slightest sign of cold(ish) weather can see you with an infection, a cough, colds and even pneumonia if you’re not careful. Ignore the sun, and alway, always be wearing shoes and socks.

Proof

I am not making this up, and this is not just the crazy rules of my husband’s side of the family. No, no, no this is very real. Take a peek at what some of my readers had to say in response to my facebook rant. Click where it says  ’18 comments’ and you’ll see some hilarious responses, like the one where you have to take off you perfectly dry bikini in the middle of summer.

 

Ladies first

Now, I’d like you to know that deadly wind & gluttony aside, Croatians are very normal.  They know that women come first. Here in Croatia, a man must always shake a lady’s hand first. As women, you’ll never be asked to lift something heavy or do any ‘man’s work.’ I like that. On the flip side, it also means you’ll never see a man doing the dishes.

Crazy winds and being forced to eat more food than I really need, are just two of the reasons I heart Croatia!

Have you ever experienced any unusual ‘rules’ in a country you’ve visited or lived in? Are you Croatian, what other things did your Baka nag you about?

 

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Comments (164)

  1. Born in Zadar lived in Croatia ( Dalmacija) till ten years old, grew up in USA … As a child, god forbid me and my friends drank water on a hot summer day if we were sweating , we were told to drink bevande ( 50/50 mix of wine & water) or we’ll get a bad stomach ache. As for praying before meals, the only time my family prayed is on ( Badna Večer ) Chrismas Eve, my mother who has passed on, did the honors. To this day, my born American children who are now adults, make me do baba’s chant as they would call it. I don’t know about Croatian’s living on the other side of Velebit, but drinking water while eating fish was definitely a no no in Dalmacija, even as children we drank bevande with fish, and come to think of it,we drank bevandu with all meals except with ( mirandu) breakfast..SJ, your last name makes me think your family is from Privlaka kod Zadra where I truly believe all these superstitions originated, especially promaja. For those unbelievers, if you can find a none aircondition bus while visiting Croatia ride on it and try opening a window, trust me! you’ll become a believer before you get off. SJ, thank you for reminding me where I’m from.

  2. Travelled to croatia and read this ‘guide’ before to get a feel for the culture and being aware of possible don’ts. Can’t agree with any if the points above. Wet hair? Uncovered neck? No FlipFlops? You see ALL of these things EVERYWHERE.
    Did not help me at all.

  3. This is my Croatian grandma definetly but new generation of Croats are influenced by western media so these rules are fading everything is changing the mentality pogressing in different ways.

  4. Hi Mate here. Old Croatian saying with fish is that is has to swim 3 times.
    Once in the ocean
    Once in the oil of the zara or frying pan and the third time in wine when you are enjoying it.

  5. I loved this. My mother was Croatian; my father Serbian! Quite the combo, yes? So I know of Croatian as well as Serbian DOs & DON’Ts! I am in my 60s & never leave house with wet hair & when my children were still young & living with me I would chase them around the house with hairdryer if need be!

  6. I live in Canada for 15 years now and I almost forgot some of these things. It seems i laid back a little as I don’t do these things anymore (I am not so young).
    My friends visited me here heaving wet hair in the middle of Canadian winter and did not get flu or cold. But I have to say they did not complain about too much food, there was no need to offer 2nd or 3rd dish, they helped themselves, no reminder needed. Not sure are you Croatian, but thank you, this is fun. I am coming back home for good in a month, good to be reminded.

  7. My boyfriends aunt would make me wear two pairs of socks in the winter saying that my ovaries would get cold and I won’t be able to have children. Also the wet hair is 100% true. All relatives hand you a towel and blow dryer when using their bathroom to shower.

  8. oh, and I would add “čuvanje bubrega” or “taking care of kidneys”. you can’t go out with a too short t-shirt. your kidneys will be exposed, you will catch a cold and die. 🙂

  9. wondering if it’s all true? ok. comment from a croatian…
    wet hair: yes. don’t do that (unless it’s summer time). the wind will kill you xD
    swearing: no. the more down south the country you go, the more swearing occurs. in all sorts of situations. somebody hit your car? goddamit, go f*** yourself! not enough salt in you meal? what the hell, *random untranslatable curse in croatian related to jesus* day not sunny enough/too sunny? ah, *random untranslatable curses that involve jesus, mary, parts of body* and so on.
    the wind will kill you: yes. bura will. 🙂 especially in hot, windy regions where moist is most feared enemy. it’s colder that way.
    saying grace: no (lol)
    “sarma” (stuffed cabbage): yes. double yes
    never saying no: ahh,yes, this can be annoying (depends on your lvl of being ok with repeating that NO. the winner is whoever quits first. pro advice: stay calm and confident. takes practice and an occasional guilt-trip)
    small portion: yes
    water: fish goes better with wine, why drink water ??? 🙂 seafood mixed with water or/and wine CAN make you sick, depending on the seafood
    flip flops etc: no. unless your mom is nearby
    ladies first: yes and no. it really depends (region of country, city/village, upbringing, age…)
    conclusion: some interesting takes on croatian people, funny, but mostly refers to elderly people, born in (ex) SFRJ/Jugoslavija/Yugoslavia. I don’t see (for now) passing down this…tradition? 😀
    best of luck

  10. I think this is hilarious (as it was intended to be) No, not every part of the country is the same, but every part has their quirks. I, for instance, was always told to never sit at the corner of the table because that meant I would never get married. And my back had to always be covered “jer cu se prehladit” (catch a cold). Oh and we were never allowed to drink water after eating corn on the cob because we would die from some stomach ailment…..but if we did take a sip of water, rakija would always fix it. I always wondered why the supermarkets never had this dire warning printed in huge letters next to the price. And there were magical properties in underwear. If you wore them inside out, they warded off the evil eye. Every part of Croatia has its quirks and I love all of them!!

    1. Welcome. We are so glad we moved you enough to leave a comment with your fake name and fake email. Blessings to you – you are such a jerk you need as many as you can get.

      1. I’ve so enjoyed your posts as a Canadian Croatian. Came upon our blog while nursing a wicked cold on my return from the homeland. The laughing is curing me. So sorry for the nastiness/offensiveness of the trolls – when your light hearted banter is just so adorable and so true.

        I remember being in an enclosed car on a 32C day in Zagreb with my second cousin, no AC (that will kill you too) – I was sweltering. I asked to roll down the window for a little breeze. You would have thought I had just put a gun to his head.

        1. Oh, and perfect strangers admonished me for allowing my one year old (30 years ago) to remain in diapers on the beach. I thought I was being hygienic/polite – for others on the beach!

        2. Hahaha! So true about the car windows…omgosh don’t try to travel any long distance in a car with them…you will succumb to asphyxiation after sweltering to death! Cannot have a “propuh”
          The prayer before meals …NO..not in the western part of Croatia near the Kupa and Karlovac. ..but church on Sunday is a must..and definitely NO manual work on Sunday. It’s God’s rest day.

  11. you motherfucking piece of shit. do you belive this asshole. i am a fricking croatian and we dont do any of this motherfucking shit. no you dont need to stupid flippers to walk around, take fucking shoes like everybody does and wind wont kill you its peaceful and warm. btw Victor is right.

    1. Wow, your Tourette’s syndrome is so bad. I feel terrible for you. Suffering from such a neurological disorder must be so challenging. Blessings Jan.

    2. Did you really have to come here and be a troll?and yeah,I’m Croatian too and it’s very common (well everything other than the fish and water thing)…

  12. @Ceebs – if you have “bura” in your living area, than you are for sure in a very traditional part of the country aka coastal area. To conclude that the rest of the country is the same – is somehow strange – and somehow wrong.

  13. Hi SJ Begonja!

    I found this post/your site via the most unlikely search parameters, but I’m so happy to have discovered it! My Croatian husband and I live in Zagreb and we had quite a lively discussion last night with him trying to convince me that all his previous concerns about my “crazy” habits were just cultural discrepancies and that other foreigners encounter the same confusion about the “rules” as I.

    The wind will kill you—just today the topic of discussion at lunch was the Bura. When hubby and I broke out in giggles, your article was mentioned and my MIL jumped in about the three times (“THREE TIMES!!!”) my husband suffered from earaches because of the propuh. Fun times because of this post, so thank you for the midday entertainment.

    I can’t understand the commenters who dispute the existence of grace before meals. My in-laws all make a quick sign of the cross before digging in, and they will do a full, silent prayer for special meals. They are somewhat traditional, but not overly religious. I’ve also seen other folks do a quick prayer at restaurants when their meal arrives to their table, so it’s not as unheard of as some folks seem to imply in the comments. I’ve even see one family do a full-fledged, hand-holding prayer at a fast-food court. Admittedly, that did garner a few (polite) stares from the other diners so obviously not everyone is accustomed to seeing such public displays of faith. Maybe this particular family wasn’t even Croatian…it was in a mall, after all.

    I’d never heard about the fish ≠ water. But I can absolutely believe it. All the other dining rules are spot on and can be seen live and in vibrant Technicolor during family luncheons with my in-laws. *rubs full tummy*

    Flip flops—I’m from the Caribbean. Like one of your readers from San Diego I grew up barefoot, constantly in wet swimsuits, with my crazy, wild wet hair blowing in the NE trade winds. My poor husband probably has high blood pressure because I haven’t turned off these “bad habits.” Conniptions galore.

    Ladies first—this custom isn’t so much about gallantry or chivalry in my neck of the woods, but there are certainly clearly defined gender roles in our household. Thankfully, household chores fall under the shared workload category. I couldn’t fathom having to always fold and put away the laundry.

    Thanks so much for this post and I look forward to reading all your other posts!

    1. Whoops! In the first para. I meant it was ME trying to convince HIM that I wasn’t crazy for breaking all these rules.

  14. Thanks for this article. My parents are Croats from Bosnia and Herzegovina and I can relate to everything you wrote. Drafts, wet hair, no walking barefoot… all so true ! Oh, and they always say grace before meal. Actually, in my experience, a majority of Croats living in Bosnia and Herzegovina say grace before meal. We love our catholic faith and we managed to keep it despite the Ottoman Empire and then the Communist/atheist Yougoslavia.

  15. I was born, raised and lived in Split for my first 20+ years in Croatia. I am sorry, but prayer before eating? I never witnessed that. Where was your experience? Some remote village, or an island? Even if you saw it, that’s not a mainstream Croatia. Now I visit my family and friends once a year (and i am a guest of other people’s homes) and still never experienced any lunch prayer…

    1. Families with communist past and “liberal” Croatians don´t pray before a meal, they don˙t pray at all. Croatia is divided in that sense. The society here has also a problem with understanding secularism. For the mainstream media, left politicans and their voters, scularism means no involving of religion of any kind into the public. So many Croatians who maybe would like to pray before a meal are not comfortable doning it fearing negative comments and prejudice from the partys mentioned above. On the other hand, for Croatians from Bosnia and Herzegowina and for Croatians comming from the parts of the country which in the past were a part of the Ottoman Empire (parts considered as traditional), religion is an essential part of their identity. In Bosnia and Herzegowina especialy, because beside Croatia there live two more nations, Serbs and Muslims speaking the same language, eating the same food and having the same customs like Croatians. The only factor of difference between those three nations is religion. So if you aren˙t a Catholic in B&H, it is like you aren˙t a Croatian. It is an etnoconfessional identity. Many people in Croatia who think of themselves as progressive, are likely to criticize traditional Croats as primitive, igornig the historical, sociological and spiritual function of religion and tradition.

      1. I am so tired of self-proclaimed “Croatians” like you (usually born in neighbouring countries with zero traceable roots to Croatia) coming online with your rubbish Communist / Liberal rants.

        Croatians are individuals who can think and do as they please.

        Sadly, some people born and raised from BiH are some of the worst of their respective ethnicities and confuse religion for nationality. They are NOT one and the same. Croatia may be overwhelmingly Catholic, but there are also Croat Orthodox, Croat Jews, Croat Muslims, Croat Buddhists, Croat Pagans and Atheists. And if they are born in Croatia, as are their parents guess what – they are Croatian. These same people from BiH have a serious identity complex and think being Croatian is a ridiculous stereotype of turn of the century peasants who are fanatically Catholic and fascist. They put crosses everywhere but wish death and judgement on everyone and it is this very hypocrisy which many Croatians have no respect for. These type of people have zero respect for Croatians and during sporting events don’t even fly Croatian flags, but facist flags – fascists whom along with their allies murdered numerous Croatians.

        Instead of dictating to Croatians who they are, go and make peace with the fact that you and ALL your ancestors are Bosnian Catholics, okay?

  16. Hello there,
    I thought your post was very well written, and very true. I hate seeing blog posts about Croatia where they write completely bogus stuff about my country. I had a laugh reading this, because every single word reminds me of my family.However, you made a minor mistake. Everything you wrote about bura is true, but bura doesn’t make you angry and tired. Another wind, called jugo does that. On a side note, ‘propuh’ is the correct Croatian word for draft, but in Dalmatia we call it ‘promaja’.
    Loved your post! 🙂

    1. She’s right. With “Jugo” comes low pressure, tiredness – not BURA…And, yes, omg, after more than a decade living in the united states I am still afraid of draft (“promaja”)! hahahahaha It will kill you, it will kill you ! hahahaha

  17. My family is quite traditional, so I am familiar with most of these ha ha… Obviously, propuh is your #1 enemy.
    My aunt was shocked by the behaviour in the UK, claiming of course these Brits are insane cause they are not aware of the draft! 😀
    Anyway, I am totally supporting the draft theory, so at least some
    of these will stay in the family!

    Also, I bet they’re gonna tell me to change my swimwear when I’m 50 and they’ll see nothing wrong about it.

    Saying prayers is not common, but I am friends with 2 families in ZG and the young adults say prayers (not aloud of course) sometime even in restaurants and such.

    Another Croatian custom I find hilarious is when two/three/five sides are arguing about who’s gonna pay the bill…

    1. Oh yes, I argue with my Croatian bestie about who pays for coffee all the time. Its easier to just pay it when she is not looking 😀

  18. I love reading all of this information related to customs and personal experiences that everyone has had…we have Croatian friends and would like to purchase a nice Christmas present and birthday present for the mother of the family…( she is around 52 years….) any ideas…that would be really helpful.Thank you so much.

  19. Oh my! This is FUNNY and TRUE!!! I loved reading this post, you got it all right, especially the food part. My family is just like that, my grandma is the one that organises most of our family gatherings, and I see myself becoming more and more like her. 🙂 I’ll take over the role when she decides she’s too old to organize big family lunches.
    We definetely eat A LOT, no matter the occasion, whether it’s Christmas or Easter, or just a regular Sunday lunch. Food (and drinks of course) is the most important thing in Croatia.
    I’m so glad you like our culture and that you accepted it with such humor. We are Balkan people 🙂 that’s what we do! We have some customs that can only be seen (experienced) in this part of the world, nowhere else. And that’s what tourists and foreigners like about us.

    Btw.
    Love your blog, keep writing it! 🙂 You’re really funny.

  20. Hahahaha… so funny and so true! I am living in Croatia from San Diego so I grew up barefoot, wet hair, wet bathing suit and we looked for a nice draft (in fact we often call it “breeze” or “air”.) Just as I’m about to say “wheeew… that breeze feels great!” someone cries “PROPUH” and the window are on lockdown and we sit in a 400 degree room safe and sound. And by the way, wet hair will surely kill you here in Croatia weather you go out or not!

  21. I’m Croatian and I can confirm that it is obligatory to change your swimsuit (both male and female) immediately after getting out of water in order to protect your reproductive organs and avoid bladder infections. Walking barefoot around the house is tolerable only during Summer but it’s very important to wear slippers so your bare feet don’t touch the dangerously cold floor. However, it’s not acceptable to sit on the concrete floor during any season because this will also cause bladder infections and colds.

    1. Don’t forget, ladies yeast infections are very real and leaving a wet suit on after a swim will be very unpleasant for you later.

    2. Yes. ..don’t even think about going outside without your “kapa” hat and shawl. If you get cold and chilled you will get “prehlad”, death of a cold!
      And even with sandals you should wear socks ..lol

  22. I live in Croatia and I can say things described here are not croatian customs. They can be practiced by certain families but are rare in general population.
    For instance, in my 35 years I have never seen anybody saying a prayer before meal. I have never heard you shouldn’t drink water with fish, which is by the way an uncommon dish in Croatia. And this statement “As a women, you’ll never be asked to lift something heavy or do any ‘man’s work’” is a total nonsense because women here have to lift very heavy items and to do man’s work all the time.
    Therefore the title of this aritcle should be something like “my personal experience with one croatian family”. To call all this to be national customs is simply a plain lie.

    1. Read the rest of my blog and you’ll see that this article is my humour – no one said it was the definitive list of Croatian customs. I think it’s fairly obvious that it’s JUST MY EXPERIENCE.
      PS: Fish… not common in Croatia? Guess you don’t live in Dalmatia.

    2. All we seem to eat whenever I visit Dalmatia is fish/seafood, say Grace, and definitely my husband still insists that only farm animals drink water with their meal “do you want to be a pig drinking water” doesn’t make much sense though. All of this blog rings true for my own experiences which Have been exclusively with many Dalamtian family & friends. I love this blog, stuff the haters mate! Hope to be an expat too one day

  23. Definitelly a Croatian post hahah my grandma (baka, nona, kako god…) is always nagging about propuh and wet hair, AND I HAVE TO BLOW DRY IT EVEN IN THE SUMMER WHEN IT’S 1000°C OUTSIDE! and you cannot escape it!

  24. Hahahaha..So funny, I was laughing reading this. it´s all true! I live in the Eastern Croatia and can say that every region has its differencies.But this are all true plus bunch of others!
    You will find out what are those living here for a while.And will probabbly (have to) get used to them (very quickly :)) 😉

    I am glad you decided to live your life here,i think life is better,more peacefull here..we spend our vacations every year near Zadar or Split (Makarska) and our plan is to build a house and live there when retired 🙂

    Wish you all the luck!

  25. Propuh
    I think all Croatian families know all about

    My mother never drinks water with any meal that is heavy or has been prepared with any kind of oil. She always told us that drinking water with that sort of meal is bad for your digestion. The water will not break up the grease/fat/oil, you need to drink wine or sparkling water/club soda or something with bubbles to break up the grease/fat/oil in your system.

    We had to take a bath/shower every night before bed, being clean in your bed is a must.
    We washed our hair about 3 times a week and never went out with wet hair a big NO NO.

    In the morning you didn’t wash your face you did that before bed. You splashed your face with cool water only. If you washed your face again you would ruin your skin and age prematurely. I am a true believer in this as my mother is 85 and looks 75. I still wash my with cool water only . I am 50 and people think I am 40.

    My parents were excellent hosts. My parents friends especially their American friends loved coming over for dinner. My father passed away but his memory is still alive. My Italian husband fits right in. His parents are deceased and being with my mom feels like home. He always leaves stuffed from the wonderful meals.

    1. I have never heard that about the cold water on the face – I look 10 years OLDER, so it’s probably true!!! Thanks for sharing. I am sorry to hear of your father’s passing, hugs to you all – keep his memories alive.

  26. So funny, hahaha, and all true. All true, hhaha. I grew up in Šibenik, and all of my aunts, and my grandma would say and do exactly the same. No draft – haha, no walking barefoot, and not drying the hair is almost like being insane – no one ever leaves home in Dalmatia without drying hair – that’s death almost. My mother, aunts and male and female cousins would change their bathing suit after a dip in the sea, haha, it doesn’t matter it’s 35 degrees celsius, haha.
    Plus, it was a custom to carry some underwear to the beach, so before leaving home from the beach we had to change under the towel, to put on the dry underwear haha. It’s funny when I read it. Of course, to eat fish in Dalmatia and drink water? It makes no sense. It has to be wine. It’s just a fact – nobody discusses it. In Dalmatia women who never drink have some wine after fish, haha.. Flip-flops in March ? It’s totally dangerous to your health – it’s not 35 degrees yet. Really funny. I miss those customs as in Rijeka they have some similarities to this, but to a lesser degree. Sorry for the many “hahas”, but I just can’t stop laughing.

      1. Yes, I think of my aunts and our beach experiences, and the fish on gradele – on the grill, and the draft, everything is just hilarious. Thank you for this.

  27. Hilarious!!! I’m almost 60 and mum 86, and have lived in Canada for almost my entire life. I still hear about this! Wear a hat. Wear a scarf. Wear boots. You’ll catch your death.

    1. One of my cousins in Croatia even changes out of her wet bathing suit into a dry one, after a dip in sea.

  28. I love your story about the propuh CTD. I am an Australian born Croatian and my husband is Australian. He thinks the propuh stories I tell him are hilarious. At the age of 43 I am still told off about walking barefoot. Apparently it affects your kidneys and makes you incontinent.

  29. Omg. Just too funny. As an Aussie with English heritage married into an Australian/Croatian family this is hilarious. I Never blow dry my hair and cop it all the time. I live in bare feet even in winter and hate socks, shoes of all kinds. My MIL keeps knitting slippers for be but I won’t wear them!

  30. Loved this.. I can sooo relate to all this. Especially about the propuh.. one year whilst i was in Croatia during Summer we drove from Austria to Croatia with cousins. He would not open the window due to propuh.. I was Dyyying.. A trip i will never forget.

      1. I know isn’t it!!! He opened the car door a couple of times at a set of lights to let a little air in. Totally bonkers if you asked me!!

  31. I am currently visiting family in Croatia. My daughter was ordered back inside to blow dry her hair because of the propuh while everyone waited in the car. Apparently, there’s always time to dry hair in these circumstances.

  32. I guess, part of your experience is due the fact that Dalmatia is very very conservative. Its is not even similar like this if you go north to the Istria. I am coming from Zagreb and never heard of half of the customs. Other half like eating and eating and eating is something what I like 🙂 LOL

    “Also washing hair and showering every day is something not in place here. How many times I was told that I am ruining my hair or skin…”

    Are you sure croatian adventure? Maybe in some village, but urban area will shower twice a day don’t worry.

    1. Yes, I guess you are right re Dalmatia. I have heard that before about the not washing daily. That is something that is a touch odd to me, but if you live in a cold place – why not skip a day! Thanks for stopping by Ombia, hope to see you back soon 😀

  33. This post made me laugh! It is all so familiar to customs I grew up with in Bangladesh as well..the grief I still get (I am an adult with two children) when I visit home and leave house with wet hair or heaven forbid let my kids get out not properly attired in warm clothes!! They are northern Yorkshire kids and hang out in Tshirts in England winter sometimes..and I do warn anyone visiting, to take the bare minimum of food because their plates will be piled up with more..don’t get the fish and water part, but who’s complaining when you can have vino instead 🙂 Great post!

  34. I am a Croatian girl living abroad, however I was born in Croatia and lived there until I was 24. My family is naturally also Croatian so I can give you some input on Croatian customs.
    The thing I notice with expats in Croatia, and I know some, is that they tend to generalize the whole country based on their own experience. Croatia is actually quite different, as somebody else already noted down, it makes a huge difference whether you live in Zagreb or Šibenik, for example. Dalmatia is VERY conservative, ESPECIALLY villages. I have never seen anyone doing prayers before meal during my whole life in Croatia, I would also find it very very weird because it means that the family is super-religious.
    Draft problems are very real, of course depends on a person, but as a child I suffered an inflammation because of being over-exposed to draft in a train, that luckily went away quickly. And generally it is not comfortable sitting in a draft, except maybe in a very hot summer if you have no AC.
    I have no idea where is wearing flipflops forbidden? Because 90% of people wear them in the summer, especially if they are going to beach. Wearing them in restaurants etc. is a sign of bad manners. Anyway, you can buy flipflops anywhere, even in drugstores like dm. So honestly I am not sure where exactly did you hear this, somebody must have been joking with you !?
    Being barefoot in apartments in Croatia is bad because people tend not to really heat their houses well in coastal area (it is one of the most annoying things for me), so I would feel very very cold walking barefoot. I only do this in Germany because my apartment has tropical climate, but never in Croatia.
    Going out with wet hair is considered, hm, bad manners also. It is simply not done unless you are in a very informal situation, like going to beach, etc. where people are relaxed. It is also not good for health because, obviously, you feel cold if your head is wet. And finally, there is a beauty reason because when you use the hair dryer women also often style their hair as well at the same time, if you just let your hair hang loose and dry, I mean, it will get dry but it will not be styled. Appearance is valued a lot in Croatia – even more so in the cities.

    I understand your point of view as I am an expat as well and I have lived in different European countries, but please do not generalize the whole country based on few families. Also, families are VERY individual, I think not only in Croatia, and I have had friends in Croatia with quite diverse backgrounds and lifestyle habits. It also depends which social class you belong to, although that term is almost extinct now, but the differences still remain (this is also one of the biggest internal conflicts of, i tend to generalize, *many* Croatian people, as you can see throughout the history of Croatian literature, etc.)

    Sincerely,
    a girl from Croatia, living abroad

    1. Riječanka, thanks for stopping by. Thanks for commenting and taking so much time to explain your points. I enjoy hearing from my readers immensely. One thing you missed though, that is that this post is tongue-in-cheek. As in that my statements are meant humorously and this blog, and it’s blog posts are not intended to be gospel are not at all the definitive cultural norms of Croatia or it’s beautiful Croatian people.

      1. One thing is often forgotten when comparing walking barefoot – in US most of the houses are made of wood and, in Croatia, of concrete and bricks (in Dalmatia houses are made with stones as well). And there is reason for such beliefs – temperature difference between stone/concrete house and wooden house is big. Now, put that into a perspective – walk barefoot in house (where it is 22 degrees) and step out where is 50 (stone on sun keep temperature even during the night). Not very pleasant. Now go in opposite direction – when you get back into a house from hot street, directly on cold stone floor.

        There are lots of superstition but mostly in older population in Croatia. From their perspective it can be understandable, knowing how they lived. And, if you are familiar with their history, you will understand why they believed in such things.

  35. I really enjoyed this post, so very well written, interesting and funny. I think I would have a hard time there with no going out with wet hair, bare neck or flip flops 🙂

  36. Some of this sounds oddly familiar from my childhood.. In CANADA! One fairly big difference is when eating fish. My mother always made us eat bread and drink plenty of water in case a small bone should get could get caught in your throat.

  37. I never realised my not going outside with wet hair for fear of illness was a cultural thing! You also took me right back to hearing Babi say “maybe draught” every time we sneezed as kids.

  38. The wet hair part had me cracking up. I grew up in LA drying my hair at 5am as I drove to work- my windows all the way down as the wind from the freeway worked it’s magic… Now that I’m in Cro I hear it from EVERYONE. My family, friends, strangers, my kids tetas in vrtic, everyone. When I get tired of the entire country telling me I’ll die this way I break out the blow dryer …only one of my crazy aunts tells me I shouldn’t drink water with a meal. Not just fish- any meal. But I do suppose when I think about it, she’s more insistent with fish on the gradela. It’s a total no-no.
    My friend and her kids visited me a few years ago and as we were coming back from a day on the island her daughter laid down on one of the benches on the trajekt to take a nap- the small of her back was showing. I felt the baba sitting next to me clench. I warned my friend that if she didn’t cover her daughter people would start intervening. The baba clenched a few more times and finally took off her own jacket and covered my friends daughter. We laughed. Propuh. Upala. Instant death. But I have to say, 4 years later, I’m becoming more like the Croats. I am in LA now for the holidays and when I see all these children half naked and barefoot climbing cold metal park equipment I cringe a little. Oh oh.

  39. lol, so much of that applies to life in Montenegro too. I was told never to sit on stone (a convenient surface seeing as there’s so much if it around) or my ovaries would shrivel. I went on to have 3 kids including twins born in Podgorica – speaking of which, a baby must be wrapped in as many layers as possible at all times of year & wear 3 nappies/diapers at once!

  40. This is so spot on it made me laugh and made my day! I love it in Croatia, it’s my peaceful happy place. I wouldn’t change a thing. They also nag you about being barefoot in the winter in the house. Then there is a saying about the March sun being worse than a snake bite and the required story about a person that sat out in the warm sun of March and died from the exposure! Sitting in the cold sea water will cause a bladder infection as well as sitting on cold surfaces. Then the changing of the wet bathing suit on the beach draped in a beach towel because sitting around in the wet bathing suit will give you a cold, a bladder infection or just kill you even when it is 100 degrees in the sun! I would not change a thing.

  41. That is funny and very true. Except for saying grace. Nobody I have ever seen says it. They all think it’s weird when my Irish husband says it.
    But all the other things- draft, wet hair, slippers… All very true.
    Just yesterday I told my mom I had a cold, and her first comment was “you must have gone out with wet hair”. 🙂

      1. I might have, I honestly don’t remember! 🙂
        But I read somewhere the explanation as to why people believe those things and it makes total sense:
        We all know that it’s not the cold temps or winds that give us colds and flu. We all know it’s the viruses and bacteria.
        BUT, when the body is freezing or STRESSED in any other way, it’s HARDER for it to fight off the viruses and bacteria on its own, so we more easily succumb to illness. And , THAT’S why we have to take care of our bodies, so they can better fight off what comes at it.
        Does it make sense to you too? 🙂

  42. This is a really, really weird family, not Croatia…

    No one cares if you drink water with fish, wear flip flops, or any of this crap. So dumb

    1. Maybe not yours Tomislav. But certainly mine and as you can see from the comments and facebook post MANY others too. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your very open thoughts.

  43. Oh thank you for such a good laugh with my morning coffee. It’s so nice to learn more about other cultures but if your Croatian MIL is living here in Australia I’m please for her own comfort that she has relaxed on a few of these.

  44. This is amazing! I am very curious about why everything surrounds health and cold. I mean, I’m not the best at history or anything but did a particularly bad bout of pneumonia hit the country at some point? It’s pretty incredible. No thongs on the beach!? My poor feet and their tan lines

  45. Haha this was great! I had no idea Croatian culture was like this! I live in Korea, and they have some similarly strange beliefs. My favorite and the most absurd is the belief in “fan death”–you absolutely MUST NOT sleep in a room with a fan on, or the fan will somehow suck all of the air out of the room into a black hole and you will surely perish. Makes me wonder what weird things my culture believes that other people don’t understand! 🙂

  46. What a hoot, I had such a good time reading this post. When I was younger & just left school I’d been dating my Croatian boyfriend for a couple of years, his mother & sister were beautiful people until you visited them at their house, I never knew until years later there real problem with me was I refused their food once (can’t even remember when it was).

  47. I’m a Croatian, or should I say Istrian… same here. My mother nags me with draft (propuh), my dad don’t let me walk bare footed trough the house since I was a child – I’ll get an ammonia, although the house is perfectly warm…
    I can swear a LOT, especially with my family. It’s like a culture here… But not God and Saints… It’s perfectly OK if I send my dad to some places in front of him, he just smiles.
    I don’t know if you noticed how Croatians love their children? Especially if it’s a son. He doesn’t have to do anything, so parents never teach male children how to do dishes (or other stuff)… If you’re a girl, well… jebiga. If a girl is an only child, she’ll chop woods, don’t worry.

  48. I just love this tongue in cheek post. I can understand the not drinking water part too. I have seen what it does to tin roofs and know what fish do it… drink the wine!

  49. My parents would always say “A fish is always destined to swim in three liquid… 1st in the sea, the 2nd in olive oil, and the 3rd in Vino”

  50. This explains so much! As kids, my grandma stuffed us with delicious meals although we were always “too skinny.” We could never understand my dad’s concern over drafts or wearing socks and hats!

  51. Hahaha – I have never noticed this water one before – will pay close attention next time. As for grace, even my super-Catholic relies and friends never say it. Ooopps. 😀

  52. This was the most entertaining and lest boring thing I have read in awhile. LMFAO!!!!!!!!! Seriously, it reminds me of the Sicilian side of my family. God bless my grandmother’s soul, that part of my family died when she did. Now they’re just a bunch of fat Americans with no cultural value… guess that’s why I’m such a rambler.

  53. I’m a Croatian/Sydney-sider and I get into trouble from my dad for drinking water after eating fish! He says that it just doesn’t go together! Haha! And I thought it was just him!

    1. Mine says it will make your stomach upset because it will “osirovit se…become raw again. It has to swim 3x sea, oil or butter, and then in wine in your stomach, otherwise don’t even think about it.

  54. This is hilarious… I think when I eventually visit I will be chased by everyone telling me that everything is wrong. When in Slovenia I had an elderly woman chase me down at the train station and chastise me for wearing a t-shirt when it was so cold (at least by the miming that’s what I think she was saying) I was like no I’m Canadian its so warm here! Still didn’t fly.

  55. I live in Norway with my Norwegian husband and they are exactly the opposite when it comes to weather. They have a saying “Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlig klær” which (loosely) translated means “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. It surprised me when we moved here to see how thoroughly the Norwegians ignore the weather and just sort of get on with it.

  56. LMAO – I’m Croatia and have come across all of these hazards. It’s a surprise there are any Croatian left in the world! Also to add to your list, don’t put ice in your drink as you will get a sore throat!

  57. Seems we dont live in same country or even a region. Im dalmatian too and i never saw anyone saying grace before meal and those UGLY flip flops are everywhere.

    1. Mara I guess I need to invite you over for a meal to say Grace 🙂 But really this post in a tongue in cheek article for which I am making some stereotypes. Of course not every house or family is the same.

  58. Nice article, however a lot of this is really found in a quite conservative dalmatian family. Dalmatia is known to be more conservative and religious than the rest of Croatia and if you wonder to other parts of Croatia, especially urban areas, you will, for example, be hard pressed to find a family doing prayers before meals or such a macho attitude towards women. Even with the younger crowd in Dalmatia that would be difficult to find. Generally, the south would be more conservative. Oh, and the curses change in other parts of Croatia, although not that much. 🙂

  59. LOL; I love this! I’ve never been to Croatia, but I live in Germany and drafts are evil here too. Apparantly they will casue colds/flu, stiff necks and maybe even the dreaded “Kreislaufkollaps” (literally “circulatory collapse” – a common ailment that seems to only affect Germans. The main symptom is feeling dizzy/fainting).

  60. lololololol you are funny. a lot of older argentines/chileans are like this as well. especially with the always-wearing-a-coat thing. It would be like 60 degrees (in, ahem, fahrenheit, sorry) and everybody would be wearing goose-down parkas. I’m like, if you people ever go to Vermont, so help you god….

  61. I really enjoyed this post – I love finding out the little quirks in different places. I wear flip flops in the cold here too…it’s just my way of forcing the warm weather upon us! 😀

  62. Oops, meant to say “men do wash dishes here”, didn’t mean to imply it’s always men washing dishes round here, we’re not quite there yet. Hopefully soon!

  63. From what I’ve gathered from Dr Oz, water after a meal slows down digestion. Not that I’ve heeded his advice.

    I’m from up north (Kvarner), and no one ever says grace here, and I’m not sure, but even when I’ve spent time with relatives in Dalmatia, it always seemed like it’s a bit of a dying tradition, something mostly elderly people do? And, thank god, men wash the dishes here, or rather put them in the dishwasher (because i hate hate hate doing it).

    And the draft obsession is so deeply ingrained here (and elsewhere in southern Europe (also Eastern? and Central? not sure..), it’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that many cultures apparently don’t concern themselves with it. But I hate wearing scarves, and I’ve never taken propuh precautions, so that always makes me feel vindicated!

    One thing that drives me crazy, but thankfully isn’t too common, is when people insist you take your shoes off in their house. Not sure what the origin is, might be left over Turkish influence from way way back? Either way, I always freak out, mostly because I can’t ever seem to find any matching socks in my laundry!

    1. Ohh you made me giggle! Shoes off? Yikes, I take them off in my house, but never at anyone elses. I too have a sock pairing issues. Where do those odd socks go?
      I have never, ever seen men do the dishes in my family – my poor husband is the exception, as I too hate the dishes. So on that I am happy 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, its always so fun to learn things outside of my little family. xx

      1. Guests must take their shoes off, unless the host says you don’t have to. It’s just something you have to do when entering someone else’s home. In any case, when you take your shoes off the host should give you slippers or something.

  64. I loved this post. We have adopted grandparents in Croatia, and I could totally relate to some of the things your said. I could replay my own experiences in my head as I was reading this.

  65. Wow..this was eye opening and I’m not sure I’d fare well in Croatia with the whole wind and wet hair thing and especially the no water after seafood. Are kids excluded? This was such an interesting read but I also found some similarities with Filipinos in terms of Catholicism, family and food. Glad you’ve learned to live with some of these “rules”.

    1. Nope, kids have to suffer too – and probably more so. Even today, there was a hint of wind and poor Vlad was ushered inside.

  66. I don’t know how well I’d do in Croatia especially when it comes to the wind. I hate wearing things around my neck. After a few minutes I get irritated with it. Even in the middle of Canadian winter, I refuse to wear a scarf! Haha

    1. Brrrrrr don’t you get cold? YOU better just come visit Croatia in summer…or late spring.

  67. Growing up in a Croatian family in Canada, my mother never seemed worried about ‘propuh’. However if I dared walk in the house BOSA – barefoot – she would have a fit!

  68. Hi.

    I’m from Croatia and I can tell you about some of this do’s and dont’s.
    Regarding food and water, there are few reasons: if food is hot then it is really bad for your teeth, also it slows down digestion process but wine is allowed because it’s acidic so it helps with digestion (or so I was told time and time again :).
    Regarding draft, yes, sometimes its just funny, but sometimes (when it’s colder and you are wet i.e.) I also believe it is true because I also had problem with muscles inflammation in those cases. Hope I was helpful.

    1. Thanks Zugi, seems that the digestion factor has come up a few times in these comments – now I know, and I am happy to learn its for a real reason.
      You were super helpful thanks, and thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂

      1. Hi Zugi, see there it is, it’s said so often by everyone there that it is actually believed. We have friends here in the states, Croatian by decent but married a person born and bread in Croatia. After moving to the US it took many months if not years for them to realize there’s no such thing as Propuh…lol yes drafts may suck when it’s actually cold, but not in the dead of summer leaving the airport in a car with no A/C…haha

  69. Hi SJ,
    reading all the comments, it seems you’ve got a HIT here 🙂
    Great post, and yes I envy you for your English (my vocabulary is sufficient yet limited in both English and Croatian).
    Bonus tip:

    if you want to greet a good friend with some kisses on the cheeks,
    limit yourself to TWO !!!
    Doing three like the French, Dutch and many other totally normal people makes you a Serb in their eyes.
    One thing in your post is disputable !!
    Women not doing heavy jobs ???
    Well, guess that rule/habit/law/tradition did not reach our village yet, ha ha ha.
    Oh, and by the way, I continue wearing flip-flops, even when bura blows and my hair (or what’s left of it) is wet.
    Poz, pim.

    1. Thanks Pim – but you are so much funnier than I. That I could never learn, Croatian you can 🙂
      GOod tip re: 3x kisses. I’ll keep that in mind.
      Poor NIves, give her a break and let her sit down.

  70. Hahaha, they sound like my Chinese family up until the flip flops – those they don’t seem to make a fuss of with me, but the older generation definitely will wear them with socks on. My grandma will hustle you with so much food from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave complete with a to-go box packed with food. The whole time growing up my parents would nag me about walking around with wet hair, but I still do it. Shh!

  71. I had no idea being Croatian was so complicated! I don’t think I would do well – though the food thing sounds like my Italian relatives. If you don’t take seconds of something, that’s like saying you hate it. And it might make your grandma look sad. If you don’t want to make your grandma look sad, it’s your duty to eat until you can hardly breathe.

  72. Lol hilarious. It sounds like I risk my life all the time, and here I was thinking that I am boring!!

  73. I really enjoyed this blog post! Not only is it hilarious, but it gives a great idea of traditional Croatian customs. I have a comment regarding the glass of water – I’m actually studying to be a nutritionist right now, and I found out that you are not supposed to drink very much water with or after your meal. It is actually disruptive to your digestion to drink water after a meal – you won’t absorb as many of the nutrients. It is best to drink 1-2 glasses of water before a meal, and it also helps you to not overeat! So, there must be something good behind not drinking a glass of water after a meal 🙂

    1. Ikr! I read that too! My dad always said that your želudac, stomach, can’t proprely break down the food with water in there..
      Also you can’t say no to trying the food. Especially the Burek, the cheese strudel.

  74. I really enjoyed reading this post and I did have a good giggle. I am sure every country has their own little customs that no-one really knows why they do it, or say it – it is just so – although I am now sitting here trying to think of some for the UK and struggling…as soon as one comes to me I will be back! 🙂

  75. My French MIL (and most French of that generation that I know) is very keen on the evil powers of a draught – it’s never a nice breeze, it’s an evil illness-inducing draught. The upshot is that houses can be stuffy and too hot and everyone in them gets sick!! Funny that dry bikinis have to be whipped off and flipflops are a no-no as when we were in Croatia last summer our over-riding impression was that Croatian blokes were always baretopped, with their t-shirts flung over their shoulder, even in restaurants and while shopping.

    1. True. All this strange beliefs are mostly by old population. We (younger) often have fun purposely provoking old folks by doing exactly the opposite of what they are telling us to do, just so we could laugh to their reaction. It is not meant as offensive or anything like that, it is just that old people are overprotective and they know that.

  76. This is a really funny post, SJ! However where I come from, we don’t say prayers before eating, and my mother does all the hard work, while my father is telling her how it should be done. But then again, we are more south than your family, and it must influence the rules :). But propuh is just a pure sense. It’s gonna kill you sooner or later. And don’t forget to always wear an undershirt, ’cause your kidney will just give up otherwise. Had a few laughs. Thanks for that 🙂

  77. Oh yes, the worrying that you’ll catch a cold thing is also prevalent here in Holland… they make me wear a coat inside but they’ll never turn the heating up (as that means that the gas bill will be too high)!

  78. I’ve come across these around much of Europe, especially in the south, and I’m forever getting in trouble!

  79. Ha! I love finding out about those funny “no-nos” – most of them seem so funny, but more and more I also realize how ridiculous my own culture is. So I guess it evens out. =)

  80. Dave, Croats will have red with fish! Failure to comply may result in the host sending the youngest child off to the shop for a bottle of white! (frowned upon, shop bought can never, ever be as good as homemade)!

  81. Solid tips to keep criticism and sour expressions at bay while in Hrvatska. I have to agree with the no water with seafood rule…always drink a dry white wine!

  82. Haha This is so funny ~ I had this when we lived in LIthuania funny things you could not say or do LIke Never sit on the ground, steps, anywhere outside except a warm chair (if your a woman) or you will damage your hoohoo LOL Fun story!

  83. This really made me laugh. i think the multiple helpings of food can be applied to Chinese mothers, too. In Malaysia, certain foods have “heaty” properties while others are cooling. You cannot have too much heaty or else inexplicable bad things will happen to your body. Both beer & durian are heaty, so never eat them together.

  84. This made me really laugh… The Bavarians are like that about the wind and wet hair… they like to visit the doctor ALOT… But I am afraid they don’t agree with your flip flop point!! 😀

    1. Haha you guys make it up by wearing white socks with your sandals! 🙂
      The best way to recognize a german person in Croatia, we kinda make fun of that a lot! 😉

  85. Ha! This made me laugh…..I can’t think of any really quirky “rules” that we have here in Britain – although older people will tell you off for the wet hair thing as well. It sounds like a minefield!

  86. That is all true… Sometimes Croats here in Dalmatia have such funny ideas… In the summer I go out after the shower with the wet hair… Now I’ve learned not to do it any more, since whenever I did it and run to the shop for example the ladies looked at me at asked. Oh you swam… No, I didn’t. But your hair is wet… Yes, I took a shower. And after that a get this strange glaze… Also washing hair and showering every day is something not in place here. How many times I was told that I am ruining my hair or skin…

  87. Thanks for making me laugh out loud! Some of these things are the same in Italy; only taking one small helping when you’re a guest, the wet hair, wind (general bad weather)…..but the one about water and fish is new, so far, but doesn’t mean it’s not the same in Italy too.

  88. Well, being a vegetarian in Croatia is very rude, too. Most people I know eat some meat for every meal and, very often, you can find meat in every single dish (except salad, if there is any). And also, meat in food you wouldn’t even expect, like salty cookies (or just animal fat, but it’s still something I wouldn’t usually eat). But the most funny thing is that people who know you don’t eat meat will almost regularly emphasize how there “is NO meat in that” when you can see it with your bare eyes, without much trying :). So, beware, vegetarians in Croatia!

    And, I don’t know if it’s everywhere like that, but people are usually in so much wonder when they find out I’m a vegetarian, like it’s something you only see on TV, so they continue for like a half an hour with questions like: “but what do you eat then?” “do you eat fish?” “not even fish?!” “how about chicken?”, and so on…

    Also, sitting on the ground without a pillow – if, for some reason, you decide to do that, you better be careful that nobody sees you :). This is the similar case as with going out with your hair wet.

    1. Can I tell you I was a vego when I joined my Croat family 15 years ago and I was given pork from the spit roast and told ‘this does not count’…. now I am big meat eater. I could not win 🙂 So yup, I know exactly what you mean Ema.

  89. Hahahaha! I love these customs!! In Morocco poeple LIE about what their job is, because they don’t want the ‘evil eye’ on them. Same reason why they don’t parade a small child around (like we tend to do with babies). The evil eye is apparently everywhere (I just think it’s my mum, and that’s why I moved away, haha!). Thanx for the story!!

  90. ‘ “Ohhh, did you not like the food”? Boom! Host 1-guest 0. ‘
    This! Here in Japan, we get slapped with this all the time! Over here it’s the same, it’s rude to say no to hospitality. I was in a bit of a pickle with this a few weeks ago. I was invited to the house a very wealthy family to tutor two children. When you visit a house in Japan, you will always always always be served tea/coffee and a small cookie or cake, and it is polite to finish what they give you. However, I was there to teach two small children who did not receive any snack or drink, and obviously I can’t teach with a mouthful, so I politely stirred some cream and sugar into my coffee while the children were finding crayons, and stole a sip here and there to make it look like I drank it, at least, but I never got a chance to eat the cookie.

    The next time I visited the house, I wasn’t served coffee at all, but was given tea instead. I remarked afterward to my boss that the matron of the family likely thought that I hadn’t liked the coffee, and had thus given me something else. He said yes, that was probably the case. A shame too, since it was probably the best coffee I’d ever tasted!

    Another famous example was when we took a vacation to Hokkaido in the north. We were staying at a nice traditional inn where the meals cost extra. We were students at the time, so all of our money was going to paying for the inn. That said, every time we went to go out exploring, our hosts tried to give us breakfast before we left. We politely refused each time (we didn’t want to say we were dirt poor, because how pitiable would that have been?). It got to the point where they wouldn’t let us leave without stuffing our pockets with candy. Finally, one day one of the owners of the inn offered us a rice ball for the third day in a row as we were out the door, and when we refused again she asked us in a very meek voice, “Can you not eat it?” (the Japanese, indirect way of asking, “You don’t like it?”) Guilt went through the roof! Of course, we had to explain that no, no, we like rice balls, we just don’t have the money to pay for extra meals. We were practically living on dollar store cup noodles at that point. The poor woman instantly shoved the rice balls into our hand and cried “Service! Service, you don’t have to pay anything!” ^^; After that, they stuffed our packs full of food every day we stayed. We felt so bad that on our last day there we pooled our money and asked to have the regular breakfast meal, but the family just laughed and told us that they’d been giving us the regular meal every morning. Still, on our last day, they made us a huge platter of food, and we all sat together and chatted. They then drove us to the train station where we had lots of tearful good byes.

    After the big 2011 earthquake, the called us, and asked if we were all right. We still exchange communications with them. It was a great experience.

    1. How awkward, and yet with such a great ending. Small cultural things can really weigh heavy, yet they can be so refreshing also. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  91. Gotta love those strange customs nobody can remember the origin of.

    The fish/water one is intriguing, because, you know, it’s like a natural habitat for fish. Maybe that’s the problem? The fish will be strengthened to the point of revenge? The water you’re drinking is not salty enough for the fish in question and will ruin it in your stomach?

    ??

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