Easter is a major Christian holiday that is often associated with the arrival of spring and new beginnings. In certain regions, such as Zagreb County, where people value tradition and a connection to the land, Easter is a time to celebrate national heritage. Whether you explore any part of Zagreb's surroundings during this holiday season, you will encounter genuine, modest, and abundant joy that greets all visitors.
Numerous folk customs are associated with the entire Holy Week in Croatia. On Palm Sunday, olive branches are brought to church, and in rural places around the metropolis, dogwood, willow, or mistletoe branches were also brought to the dedication, which was then placed on the house to protect it from storms. On Maundy Thursday, the three days of Easter would begin, and all work in the fields would stop, and it was believed that whoever eats fresh vegetables and salad on Maundy Thursday brings the strength of spring into himself. Namely, they say that in some regions, it was believed that in that case, one would have enough prosperity and money for the whole year
According to the Tourist Board of Zagreb County, Easter is a significant Christian holiday, and tourism has been thriving in the past year. The spring period has seen a surge in tourism, with up to 50% more overnight stays and arrivals than last year. This success is largely due to the numerous events hosted in the Zagreb ring, including the upcoming third edition of WRC Croatia, the Sparkling Wine & Strawberries Festival, and the first edition of the adrenaline event Spartan this summer. Zagreb County Tourist Board Director Ivana Alilović invites families to embark on a one-day adventure to one of the county's attractive and green destinations during the holidays.
On Holy Saturday, the locals used to gather in the evening for "vuzmica".
Maundy Thursday water was believed to have magical and healing powers in many regions. It was thought that washing when the bells were tied would make a person permanently beautiful and cure all skin problems. While the entire week was dedicated to Easter preparations, Holy Saturday was the most significant event. Housewives would prepare the necessary meals and take them to be blessed in a basket. In the evening, the faithful gathered for an Easter vigil, and in some locations, a special bonfire known as vuzmica was lit.
It's fascinating to learn that decorating Easter eggs with wax has been a long-standing tradition dating back to ancient times. Interestingly, onion peel and nettle were also used for decoration, adding a unique touch to these eggs.
During Easter, the entire family comes together around the table for a festive lunch. Among the obligatory soup, ham, horseradish, scallions, and radishes, as well as bean salad and cakes like poppy seed cake makovnjača, walnut cake orehnjača, or kuglof, Easter bread holds a special place on the table. It is usually in the form of a braid with eggs.
It's hard to imagine Easter without Easter eggs. Traditionally, eggs were dyed using natural materials like onion peels, beets, and nettles. Some people still use these methods today. In the past, and even now, Easter eggs were also decorated with wax, fabric, beads, and other creative techniques, such as various patterns of flowers or leaves.
Suppose you want to make traditional Easter dishes from Zagreb County, like pinca, orehnjača (walnut cake), ham in bread, and homemade horseradish sauce. In that case, you need some passion and high-quality homemade ingredients. The tourist board's social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram are great places to find the best recipes.
The pictures were obtained from the photo collection of the Turopolje Museum and captured by Višnja Huzjak, the author.