In the northern Croatian city Cakovec advent is celebrated, and especially when the night has fallen, it is very nice to walk around the centre of town. Everywhere there are Christmas lights, Christmas trees, a real ice rink, a small train rides through the centre, there is a winter garden where you get to visit Santa Claus and there are stalls everywhere with treats and gifts for Christmas. There is an Advent program and every weekend there are performances of children’s dance and singing groups, the church choir performs in front of the church besides a big Christmas tree and other musicians show of their skills!
Advent has begun!
The Advent period begins about a month before Christmas and the word “Advent” comes from the Latin word ‘adventus‘. The Advent period is a vasting or lent period before Christmas. In Croatia the fourth Sunday before Christmas one candle on an Advent wreath with four candles is lit, and every Sunday an extra candle is lit until finally all four candles are burning for Christmas. Children receive an Advent calendar and they can open a hatch everyday behind which is a symbolic little gift, like a chocolate.
When you walk through the city you should not be scared by the terrible monster called the Krampus! This is an ugly bestial demon from the folklore of the alpine area called for his long claws – or “Krampen” in German. The Krampus apperas around the same time with St. Nicholas and the Krampus walk around in Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Czech Republic and Hungary, in the first two weeks of the month December. But on the night of December 5, the Krampus roams the streets and frightens children and adults, but actually they are there to scare away the evil winter spirits. Also in Croatia good children get a gift in their shoe from St. Nicholas, but naughty children are caught by Krampus and put in a sack and get punished.
The upcoming Christmas period, is also the time to bake Christmas cookies. There are many kinds of cookies baked for Christmas in Croatia, but my favourite is the vanilla crescent cookies – Vanilin kiflici! This is the recipe for x-mas cookies, try them out, you can easily save them a few days, but usually they are gone in a day or two!