On Good Friday, there is a procession in all Croatian towns. This is the day of fasting. In Coastal Croatia, people mostly prepare seafood – cod being the most popular choice. It is usually cooked ‘bianco’ – with mashed potatoes, olive oil, and garlic. Those who can -prepare it at home and have lunch with their families, and those who work usually eat cod at nearby restaurants in the company of their colleagues. It is not difficult to find, as it is offered everywhere. You might even get a bit of cod and a slice of bread on ‘pjatić’ (small plate) with your espresso in your local café. We said it, it’s everywhere!
At the end of this day – the holiday spirit gets in the air! Everyone rushes to buy groceries and start preparing traditional Easter dishes.
Egg coloring is the most important and the most fun of all customs! There are so many different colors and decorations for egg decoration available nowdays. In the old times, our grandmothers used to color eggshells with onion and beetroot, and make decorative patterns with the parsley.
The most popular Easter sweet in Croatia is the Sirnica (or Pinca in North Croatia). Sirnica is a kind of sweet bread prepared with eggs, oranges, lemons, and sprinkled with large pieces of sugar. These days you can buy Sirnica everywhere in the bakeries and shops, but nothing can replace the homemade, hot from the oven Sirnica made from our grandmother’s recipes. We all remember our grandmothers stressing over Sirnica rising dough, covering it with blankets to keep it warm. Opening the door and getting the cold air inside was considered the worst crime – and kids were well aware of it!
There are thousands of available recipes and the dilemma of which is the best one makes a comeback every year- almost as if we haven’t learnt anything from the previous years. This ‘quest’ for the perfect recipe, and sharing the pictures of our successful and less successful Sirnice is an integral part of our Easter every year!
Our grandmas also used to make the dough braids called ‘garitulice’ for children. The dough is interwoven into a braid, and the colored egg is placed on top.
On Easter day, families bring their food and colored eggs to the Holy Mass, to have it blessed.
You will mostly find the traditional Pašticada with homemade gnocchi, or ham wrapped and baked in bread on the Croatian Easter table. Of course, the celebration cannot go by without a dalmatian green and some prosciutto and cheese.
Although the weather is warm, Easter is mostly celebrated inside, at the family table. Families and friends get together to eat and, in many cases, sing. It’s a fiesta after all!
Children look forward to the traditional ‘egg fight’ where the two ‘fighters’ hit each other eggs until the first egg bursts! Some older gamers are known to have wooden eggs that win every fight. They live their fame until they are discovered. All for good fun!
Of course, the Easter Bunny visits Croatia too and brings loads of chocolates to children, and those who feel like children.
Another tradition in Split is buying small marzipan cakes in the shape of yellow chicks. The most popular ones are sold in one of the oldest dessert shops’ Tradicija’ in the Old Town. The men of the house are traditionally sent with children to buy these, so that the women can have some peace at home for Easter preparations.
Just like every holiday, Easter in coastal Croatia comes with a lot of noise, cheerfulness, and gathering in the Old Town where people drink, toast, chat and enjoy the spring sun.
Unfortunately, this 2021 Easter will be spent in a new different way, #stayingathome with our closest family and remembering these beautiful customs without being able to participate. We hope this kind of Easter will not become the new reality, and wish you peace and wellbeing, and return to all that was good before soon.