Kolenda, Koleda or Kolyada is the original Slavic word for Christmas, still used in modern Belarusian (Каляды, Kalady, Kalyady), Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian (Коледа) and Slovak (Koleda). Some suppose the word was borrowed the word from the Latin calendae; compare "Kalends". Others believe it derived from Kolo, "wheel". Another speculation is that it derived from the Bulgarian/Macedonian word "коля/колам" (kolia/kolam), which means "to rip, to kill (a man), to cut animal for eating", or from the Croatian (kolo, kolodar). Some claim it was named after Kolyada, the Slavic god of winter.
Croatia's Catholic heritage can be seen in its celebration of Christmas, which falls on December 25 in Croatia. If you're in Croatia's capital city, do pay a visit to the Zagreb Christmas market, which appears, along with festive decorations, on the main square.
|Christmas Eve, called Badnjak in Croatia, is celebrated in a similar manner to other countries of Europe. Straw may be placed underneath the Christmas Eve tablecloth. Fish, as a substitute for meat, is served, though a meat dish is usually served as the entree on Christmas Day. A yule log may be burnt and church may be attended.|
On Christmas Eve, the Christmas wheat, which has been sprouting since St. Lucy's Day on the 13th of December, is tied with ribbon in the colors of the Croatian flag – red, white, and blue. Sometimes a candle in combination with other symbolic items is placed within the wheat.
Christmas Day is spent with family or at church.
Since I was a kid I adored Christmas time. Maybe because I was over sensitive in the winter and instead of going to the kindergarten I usually stayed at my grandmas house. It was the best time ever. Since the beginning of the Advent she was baking all sorts of cookies, bishops bread (something like Weihnachtsstollen), "paprenjaci" (Pfefferkuchen) and whole house smelt of vanilla and cinnamon. It was the time for stories, singing Christmas songs and enjoying the warmth of old stove while snow was falling outside. At St. Lucia`s day I would help Granny to start growing wheat in small pots for Christmas. If the wheat is strong and green for Christmas, next year will be fruitful and joyful.
Priprema za Božić počinjala je došašćem, u dosta krajeva početak priprave bio je blagdan Svete Katarine 25. studenog. U to se vrijeme odlazilo na ranojutarnje mise zornice, postilo se i duhovno pripremalo za veliki blagdan. U novije se vrijeme proširio običaj izrade adventskog vijenca s četirima svijećama, a na svaku bi se adventsku nedjelju palila jedna svijeća. U nekim se hrvatskim krajevima na blagdan sv. Barbare stavlja pšenica u tanjuriće, koja proklija, zazeleni se, te postaje božićni ures u kućama i crkvama.