Country Facts

Biggest Croatian holidays and celebrations in Croatia

  • New Year’s Day: 1 January
  • Epiphany: 6 January
  • Easter and Easter Monday
  • Corpus Christi: 60 days after Easter
  • International Workers’ Day: 1 May
  • Anti-Fascist Struggle Day: 22 June
  • Statehood day: 25 June
  • Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and the Day of Croatian defenders: 5 August
  • Assumption of Mary: 15 August
  • Independence Day: 8 October
  • All Saints’ Day: 1 November
  • Christmas: 25 December
  • St Stephen’s Day: 26 December.

Croatian celebrities you should know

  • Nikola Tesla (inventor, 1856-1943)
  • Goran Ivanisevic (tennis player)
  • Luka Modric (football player)
  • Davor Suker (football player)
  • Janica Kostelic (ski racer)
  • Mario Andretti (world champion racing driver)
  • Blanka Vlasic (athlete / high jumper)
  • Drazen Petrovic (basketball player 1964-1993)
  • Toni Kukoc (NBA player)
  • John Malkovich (Hollywood actor)
  • Goran Visnjic (actor in the TV series “ER”)
  • Rade Serbedzija (actor)
  • Mira Furlan (actress)
  • Mirko Filipovic (MMA fighter)
  • Robert Herjavec (entrepreneur)
  • Tony Robbins (American life coach, self-help author and motivational speaker)
  • Slavica Ecclestone, (British-Croatian former model and amongst Croatia’s richest).

Croatian food taboos and favourites

Dalmatian food, found along Dalmatian coast, and on the islands, is based heavily on fish, greens, olive oil, and seasonings like garlic, rosemary, parsley, etc. Dalmatian cuisine is typical Mediterranean cuisine and dishes like crni rizot (black squid risotto) and pasticada s njokima (baby beef’s fake fillet with gnocchi) are very popular.

Zagreb food, on the other hand, has many similarities with central European countries. Typical Zagreb food includes meat dishes, while side dishes usually include potatoes, other root vegetables and cabbage, and strukli (pastry, filled with cottage cheese and sour cream) is a famous dish.

Istrian cuisine is similar in many ways to Dalmatian cuisine. Istria has some of its own typical dishes, like manestra (a bean soup), or fuzi (a hand-rolled pasta).

Many dishes in Slavonia are simply based on pork meat and red paprika is the main condiment. Sarma (stuffed sauerkraut) is a favorite dish.

Figures from Croatian history

  • Josip Jelacic (military leader and Ban 1801-1859)
  • Stjepan Radic (Croatian national leader 1871-1928)
  • Ante Starcevic (“father of Croat nation” 1823-1896)
  • Franjo Tudjman (first President of Croatia, founder of modern Croatia 1922-1999)
  • Miroslav Krleza (writer 1893-1981)
  • Milka Trnina (opera singer 1863-1941)
  • Zinka Milanov (opera singer 1906-1989)

Key words and national identity for Croatians

Propuh or “the draft” is an inseparable part of life in Croatia and much of the Balkans. A breeze blowing from one end of the apartment to the other, or a chilly wind on a cloudy day can result in all kinds of ailments. “The draft” is responsible for everything from muscle aches, headaches, colds, to infections or even inflammation of the brain.

Landmarks and places of cultural interest in Croatia

  • Dubrovnik’s ancient city walls and old town
  • Split’s Diocletian Palace
  • Zadar’s sea organ (architectural musical instrument played by the sea’s waves)
  • Plitvice Lakes National Park
  • Zagreb’s Upper Town
  • Pula Arena (Roman amphitheatre)
  • Opatija’s Lungo Mare (coastal walk).

Music genres popular in Croatia

The music of Croatia has two major influences: Central European, present in central and northern parts of the country including Slavonia and Mediterranean, present in coastal regions of Dalmatia and Istria. In Croatia both pop and rock are popular. Since the mid-20th century, schlager and chanson-inspired music have formed the backbone of the Croatian popular music. The klapa music is a form of a cappella singing that first appeared in Croatia during the middle of the 19th century, refers to “a group of people” and the singing style has roots in church song. The motifs in general celebrate love, wine (grapes), country (homeland) and sea. The main elements of the music are harmony and melody, with rhythm very rarely being very important. Kolo is a circle dance, usually accompanied with instrumental music, featuring the Croatian national instrument the tamburica and singing. Croatian folklore is also rich in national costumes.

Symbols of Croatian identity

The tie, a universal symbol of sophistication and culture, originates from the Croats. As a fashion accessory, the Croats spread it throughout Europe in the 17th century. At first, Croatian soldiers were recognised by the scarf worn round the neck and so the scarf was named after them: the cravat (the tie). In 1667 a separate army regiment was formed named the “Royal Cravates”, after the Croats.