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Behind door number 23 awaits enchanting Croatia, where the Adriatic coast cradles stories in the waves, and the old town of Dubrovnik tells a lively fairy tale!



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An interesting Christmas tradition in Croatia is the practice of "Badnjak." Badnjak is a festive custom that takes place in Croatia on Christmas Eve, December 24th.

An important tradition in Croatia is the decorating and burning of the Badnjak tree, a young oak or oak branch, on Christmas Eve.
In many rural Croatian communities, there are public fire pits where people light their Badnjak branches. This fire symbolizes the light that the birth of Jesus Christ brought into the world.
Christmas Eve often begins with attending the midnight Mass at the church. Worshipers gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus and usher in the Christmas holiday.
After the midnight Mass, families gather for a traditional Christmas dinner. The feast may include various dishes like fish, meat, beans, sauerkraut, cakes, and Christmas cookies.
In some regions of Croatia, "Djed Božićnjak" (Father Christmas) brings gifts for the children, while in others, gift-giving occurs on Christmas Day, December 25th.

During and after the meal, traditional Croatian Christmas carols are sung to enhance the festive atmosphere.

The Badnjak tradition in Croatia is a blend of Christian customs and ancient rituals. It is a time of gathering, festive meals, and reflection on the significance of Christmas. 

Recipe Sarma

Croatian Sarma is a variation of the traditional dish where cabbage or grape leaves rolls are filled with a mixture of ground meat and rice are the main components. However, there are regional variations in Croatia, and the preparation of Sarma can vary from family to family.
Here is a simple recipe for Croatian Sarma made with grape leaves:

•    1 jar of pickled grape leaves (about 30 leaves)
•    500g mixed ground meat (beef and pork)
•    1 cup of rice
•    1 large onion, finely chopped
•    2 garlic cloves, minced
•    2 tablespoons of paprika powder
•    Salt and pepper to taste
•    2 tablespoons of tomato paste
•    2 tablespoons of oil
•    Water
•    Sour cream or yogurt for serving

1.    Rinse the pickled grape leaves in cold water to remove excess salt and drain them.
2.    Pour boiling water over the rice in a bowl and let it soak for 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3.    Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the finely chopped onion until it becomes translucent.
4.    Add the ground meat and cook until it's browned. Then add the minced garlic, paprika powder, salt, and pepper, and stir well.
5.    Add the rice to the meat mixture and cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring.
6.    Spread out the pickled grape leaves on a flat surface and place a small amount of the meat-rice mixture in the center of each leaf. Fold the sides of the leaves in, then roll them up to form small parcels.
7.    Place the stuffed grape leaves tightly next to each other in a large pot.
8.    Dissolve the tomato paste in some water and pour it over the stuffed grape leaves.
9.    Add enough water to cover the grape leaves.

10.    Cover the pot and simmer the grape leaves on low heat for about 1.5 to 2 hours until they are soft and fully cooked.
11.    Serve with sour cream or yogurt.

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