Christmas is almost here, the most important holiday and time of spiritual celebration. I was always interested in learning how Christmas is celebrated around the World. Sharing story about Christmas tradition and magic in my family and in Poreč is a great gift. It’s a perfect time to read about how we experience the joy of the season.
Istria is multi-cultural and multi-ethnic region so Christmas traditions vary from family to family. Traditionally tree is not decorated until the 24th of December, but our family tradition starts already at the beginning of December. Our favorites are to spend time with kids making Christmas ornaments and cookies and hanging out with friends. We are often driving around to look at Christmas lights or collect pine cones and shells along the coast for the wreath.
Stores are full of Christmas ornaments but this is the best time to teach children about Christmas spirit and make them create their own ornaments. December is an ideal time for creativity. Our to-do list: Advent wreath, Christmas cards, homemade presents, festive decor, ornaments from folded paper, cookies for Christmas tree. We make folded paper ornaments every day, as one of our Advent activities. This has been a tradition in our house for several years. We are rocking around the Christmas tree since the beginning of December. Most important is to create holiday memories that last a lifetime.
Children love the Christmas wheat growing idea. This is an easy activity. We plant wheat grains on December 13th in a small pot. According to tradition, if by Christmas Day the wheat has grown tall, lush and green, this is the sign of prosperity for the coming year. Grown Christmas wheat plants can be bought at the Advent stand with local crafts or in supermarkets. So no doubt you will have a prosperous year!
There’s nothing more delicious than the taste of Christmas cookies, or as we say medenjaci. Medenjak is Croatian cookie spiced with cloves, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, honey, squeezed orange juice, easy to make and traditionally served at Christmas. We also tried to make a gingerbread house and a gingerbread cookies as ornaments this year, but obviously, once you’ve eaten your cookies, you won’t have them anymore for Christmas tree decoration. Priceless family moments!
Looking for medenjaci recipes? Try these Medenjaci – Croatian Honey
Christmas Eve, known as Badnja večer, the Eve dedicated to family. Traditional Christmas Eve meal in our house is Bakalar, a dried codfish, served in bianco style and spread on toasted bread. Definitely my No.1. We usually prepare squid and potatoes baked in the oven, different types of fish, seafood risotto, salted anchovies. And for dessert apple pie and walnuts strudel.
After traditional dinner, everyone is welcome to attend Midnight Mass, known as Polnoćka, at Euphrasian basilica, the most valuable cultural monument in Poreč from the 6th century. From 1997, it’s on the UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites.
After the Mass, young people stay in the city for fun. The atmosphere in the city is very festive!
Christmas Day is a day for the gathering of family and close friends, a day for present opening and real meat fest. We usually prepare roasted pork, lamb or turkey, stuffed peppers, served with salad and homemade mlinci (baked noodles). And for dessert fritule (small donuts), kroštule (pastry made by deep-frying ribbon-shaped dough) and tiramisu cake. The scent of cinnamon, of mulled wine and honey cookies are perfect if you are trying to create a warm and inviting atmosphere in your home.
How do the local people celebrate this festive season? Most people seem to take time off during holidays and rest a bit after long summer tourist season. Offices are closed on the December 25th. Long dinner parties are held by co-workers or friends at restaurants or taverns. Christmas lights on the main streets, trees and holiday magic called Advent in Poreč.
Advent starts on 06.12. and lasts until 06.01. During the time of Advent, Poreč offers many events as ice skating rink set up in Marafor square and free ice-skating lessons, Santa Clause House, Poreč Fairy-tale, free live music and concerts, free creative workshops for children and adults, exhibitions, advent rich culinary offer and much more. Advent takes place in the old town at Matija Gubec square, Villa Polesini, the premises of the City Library and public culture institution “Pučko otvoreno učilište”.
With mild winter temperatures around 10-15 Celsius, we can easily spend this festive time hanging on the Riva by the sea or city squares. And if you’re cold, nearby restaurants and coffee shops have also designed advent program for visitors.
We treat ourselves with delicious treats as fritule, kroštule or drink mulled wine, hot chocolate,… Culinary delights! There’s a great choice of products at the Christmas market where you will find wines, rakija, honey, lavender products, local craft souvenirs, traditional local food. We usually buy presents at the stalls with local crafts. Advent time in Poreč is my favorite way to enjoy the Christmas spirit!
Check out rich event program on Advent Poreč.
New Year’s Eve party offers a concert by famous performers at the main town square (Trg Slobode) – good fun with my friends and excellent atmosphere as always! For those wishing a more private atmosphere, restaurants, taverns, and cafes are offering fish or meat specialties and good festive fun.
Visiting Poreč in December is the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit.
Another Santa Clause House in nearby village Kaštelir opens its door in December. Creative local people organize this special event. More info on https://www.facebook.com/KucaDjedaMrazaKastelir/
There’s also a Christmas program for children in Dino Park Funtana: the exhibition of illuminated dinosaurs, a fun park, flying twister, pirate ship, Flintstones ride, and in a heated show arena you can try pastries and mulled wine.
Local people visit another great Advent, Advent in Zagreb (2,5-hour drive from Poreč). For the third year in a row Advent in Zagreb is the best Christmas market in Europe voted by European Best Destinations.
Wishing all our readers Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year! Merry Christmas, or as we say Sretan Božić!