Easter In Croatia: Traditions And What To Eat

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Want to spend Easter in Croatia? Here is what to expect while you are there.

Croatia Travel Blog_Things to do in Croatia_Easter in Croatia

If you’re lucky enough to visit Croatia during Easter, you’re in for a real treat! Croats take Easter very seriously, and as a result, there are countless events, processions, and special traditions to experience.

Easter is an enjoyable time when families come together to celebrate, eat delicious and traditional Easter-time foods, and of course, pay homage to what Easter is all about – Jesus.

Many visitors actually miss this wonderful time of year simply because it isn’t considered the traditional’ Croatia holiday time.’ Still, there are many benefits to visiting Croatia during March or April.

The weather around Easter is indeed mild and often sunny at this time, and prices are low. You’re not going to experience huge crowds at any tourist attraction, and you’ll find accommodation far easier as a result.

Bonus! In addition to all of this, you’ll also get to see and experience Easter traditions across the country, which vary slightly from place to place.

Easter Traditions & Easter Processions In Croatia

Painted Easter Eggs In Zagreb - Easter in Zagreb

Some cities are known for their own special Easter celebrations and traditions, but there are also customs you will find anywhere you go in Croatia during the holiday.

Easter Traditions In Zagreb

Zagreb is undoubtedly the busiest place to be if you want to experience Easter time with many other people! You’ll find countless activities on offer, and if you head to the famous cathedral, you’ll see a massive hand-painted Easter egg exhibition; it’s certainly something to impress on your Insta feed!

You should also head to the Easter Fair at Ban Jelacic Square, too, for fun and festivities for all the family. You’ll find stalls that are decorated in the manner of tiny wooden houses, almost like gingerbread houses. In these stalls, you’ll find all ways of delicious goodies to try, including local delicacies, as well as souvenirs you can purchase and take back home for loved ones.

Of course, it’s not just Zagreb that has all the Easter fun, as if you head towards the coastline, you’ll find everyone heads out and enjoys the mild weather, hitting the beach and also the parks, where you’ll find families spending quality time together.

Easter Traditions In Opatija

If you’re around Opatija, head to Villa Angiolina Park, where you’ll find a massive Easter egg hunt perfect for families, a delicious breakfast on offer, and an Easter fair.

Easter Traditions In Hvar

Hvar is also a spot to visit, and you’ll be able to watch the Za Krizen (Following The Cross), which is a huge passion procession that travels through seven churches in the local villages and has been going on for the last 500 years.

The procession has been included UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. It begins on Holy Thursday, traveling through Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj, and Vrboska, and finishes on the morning of Holy Friday.

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Easter Traditions Throughout Croatia

Aside from festivities and processions across the country, it would be best if you were also on the lookout for a few standard customs.

The History Of Giving Easter Eggs In Croatia

The giving of Easter eggs is a tradition in many countries, but in Croatia, there is a tale behind it. It is customary to give Easter eggs to family and close friends because they represent a blessed life, and it’s even more common for people in love to give these eggs as gifts. In fact, a custom in Dubrovnik is for young girls to give Easter eggs to their fiancés as it symbolizes love and happiness in their long life together. 

In addition, girls would often make bread dough and braid it before cooking. They would then give it to their mother as a gift at East, symbolizing a good relationship between mother and daughter.

Palm Sunday

On Palm Sunday, you will see people taking olive or palm branches for blessings.

You will typically see palm branches in Split; however, in Korcula and Šibenik, it’s all about olive branches, and you’ll occasionally see them made into wreaths.

Easter Bonfires

Particularly in the north-western part of the country, people have a bonfire, and it is called ‘vuzmenice.’ This is carried out on the Saturday before Easter Sunday, and at this time, everyone gathers in front of the church to light the fire with rocks without using lit matches – using the old-fashioned way of creating fire. 

Then, everyone enjoys their time together, singing songs. 

Easter Music

There is a special type of music in Croatia at Easter time called ‘čegrtaljke.’ This is an instrument that looks like a board of wood, and it has a percussion section attached with metal teeth. When it is pulled across the ground, it creates a sound which is then used to create special songs according to the region.

Easter Food In Croatia (Glorious Food!)

How To Make Croatian Ham In Bread Recipe (sunka u kruhu) - Croatian Easter

Food is a massive deal in Croatia at Easterrime, especially Easter breakfast, which you will find is enormous and packed with all manner of delicious treats!

The night before the big day, people attend a late-night Mass service, and the foods are taken in their baskets, and they receive a blessing from the priest, ready to be eaten on the Easter Sunday morning.

Depending on where you are in Croatia, you’ll find that breakfast consists of ham, lamb, radishes, spring onions, and horseradish, but you’ll also find many other extras.

The centerpiece is a Croatian Easter bread called sirnica / pinca. This is round bread with a sign of the cross sliced into it before it is placed in the oven, so the cross becomes even more evident when it rises.

Lunchtime is just as hearty, but the differences in foods across the country are pretty stark. For instance, if you go to the coastal regions, fish is a big part of Easter lunch; however, in the north, you’ll find that turkey or chicken is a staple, and even lamb is being eaten in the Karlovac area.

Traditional Croatian Easter Foods – What To Eat

`_Croatian Easter Bread Dolls

  • Ham: Baked with spices and white wine and usually served with crusty bread. Ham in bread – so yummy; try it here.
  • Vrtanji: This is a savory type of bread, and sometimes there is a colored Easter egg hidden in the middle
  • Pinca: This is a huge bread that sometimes has raisins inside it and is born from the Adriatic coastline. Recipe here.
  • Slavonian bagels: You’ll often hear this referred to as ‘poor man’s cake,’ and it is simply made of flour, eggs, and a little salt
  • Štrukli: Hailing from the country’s north, this is a pastry that contains cheese in the middle. You’ll find it served with onions and parsley or even cream. Štrukli recipe here.
  • Easter bread dolls or primorski uskrsne bebe: These are primarily found in the Istria region and Primorje. Recipe here.

Traditional Croatian Easter Foods – When To Eat What

How To Make Zagorski Štrukli Recipe 12

It’s not just about knowing what to eat; it’s about knowing when to eat it! 

Good Friday – Veliki Petak

It’s customary to avoid fatty food or meat on Good Friday; fish is eaten instead. This is usually cod or carp and comes fresh from the coast. 

Holy Saturday & Easter Sunday 

Food is prepared on Holy Saturday for a complete feast the next day, but Saturday is also about eating! Ham is a commonly enjoyed food on this particular day but also salad, homemade bread, and of course, everyone starts to eat cake for breakfast! 

There is also a lot of chicken soup, meat roast, lamb, and pork. Put simply, everyone enjoys everything for two days straight and celebrates to the max! 

Easter Eggs & What They Mean

Eggs Cracking at Easter - Easter n Croatia

We should also talk about Croatian Easter eggs; while nobody eats them, they are a big thing on the day! These are known as ‘pisanice,’ and they are an egg that has been brightly decorated and painted in different regional styles. 

Decorating eggs at Easter has been a big custom in Croatia for hundreds of years, and decorating the shells in different colors can be done in natural ways. 

If you want to create blue, you can use purple cabbage and black grapes. For a brown color, go for solid coffee grounds and walnut shells. Green is easily achieved with spinach and parsley. For oranges, use carrots and red pepper, and red is achieved with pomegranate juice and onion shells. As for pink, go for grape juice and cranberry juice. 

However, different colors also mean other things. 

  • Red – Charity, energy, hope, love, spirituality, and joy of life 
  • Yellow – Light, purity, recognition, harvest, youth, and reward
  • Green – Freshness, health, hope, fertility, wealth, and prosperity 
  • White – Birth, joy, purity, virginity, light, wisdom, and spirituality 
  • Black – fear, ignorance, death, and eternity
  • Blue – Heaven, fidelity, truth, and good health
  • Pink – Success and satisfaction 
  • Brown – Harvest, soil, and generosity
  • Purple – Patience, trust, faith, and fast
  • Orange – Endurance, strength, and ambition 

One thing that happens with the painted eggs is a game of ‘egg tapping.’ You can play at home; it’s easy. Everyone is given an egg, and you take turns tapping the top of your egg against the top of the egg of the person next to you. Then whoever’s egg remains unbroken or uncracked wins! Easy.

I hope you enjoy Easter in Croatia. Let me know below in the comments of any Easter traditions or foods we missed.

Comments (4)

  1. Hi Sarah-Jane,

    Some family members and I are taking Dad on a holiday back to his home town of Zagreb. Travelling from Brisbane, we plan to arrive in Zagreb on Easter Monday around 2pm. My question is, will there be any restaurants open on Easter Monday for us to have an evening meal on our first day in the country? I’ve been searching, but haven’t found much information so far.

    Cheer and thanks in advance.

    1. You will never find any information about that kind of thing online. Yes restaurants will be open, but as are the new rules here shops are not allowed to be open on Sundays and public holidays anymore, so be prepared for.

      1. Thank you Sarah-Jane,
        I think, after arriving at 2pm ish, we won’t be worried about shops or anything, as long as we can have an evening meal. We will probably just want to unpack, maybe walk around the city centre if we are staying right in the centre, or visit our Grandparents graves or Dad’s old house. The touristy stuff will start the next day.

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