An Expat Christmas: From Australia to Croatia

Thrifty Travel Mama | An Expat Christmas - Croatia (Chasing the Donkey)We’re finishing up our Expat Christmas series today with a journey to the beautiful country of Croatia where we’ll hear from native Australian Chasing the Donkey.  Read on to find out why she’ll be burning a log soaked in liquor and what’s cooking for Christmas dinner in Croatia.

By the way, things will be rather quiet here on Thrifty Travel Mama while we take some time to celebrate Christmas in our little family… and to take a quick trip to Paris!  I wish you the happiest of holidays and a joyful new year.  See you in 2014!

Our Very First Croatian Family Christmas

Yippity skippity, it’s almost here! My very first Christmas in Croatia. I am overjoyed that in addition to being in my new home country for Christmas, this will be our very first Christmas together as a family. Last year when my son was just 4 months old, my husband was required to be abroad for work on Christmas Day. I was sad that day, but this year I will be overjoyed!Thrifty Travel Mama | An Expat Christmas - Croatia (Chasing the Donkey)

What do I expect for this festive season? Honestly I am still a little unsure however what I do know is we plan to spend the day with our extended family. Now, I can’t just  fly by the seat of my pants and wait to see what our family does so we do have a few things planned to contribute to the day. Then next year I’ll combine the new traditions with my old favourites. Christmas traditions will be aplenty I am sure, after all here in Croatian the majority of us are Roman Catholics, and Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of Our Jesus Christ.Thrifty Travel Mama | An Expat Christmas - Croatia (Chasing the Donkey)

New Traditions

Christmas Wheat

I have already prepared to celebrate the feast day of St. Lucia on Dec 13th. I have a small bowl ready to fill will some cotton and wheat seeds. What is the wheat for? Well, you see I have been told that the wheat seeds should grow big and tall. How big and how tall is believed to be in direct correlation to my luck and prosperity for the upcoming year. Gulp, that’s what I call pressure.

No one said I can’t add fertiliser, just to encourage the wheat and ensure our good fortunes for next year! After watching the wheat grow until Christmas Day, I plan to make it the centre piece of my table, that is unless of course it fails to grow, in which case I’ll use a candle.


Back in the day (how long I really have no clue) it was tradition to send the men folk outdoors in search of a big fat log of wood. Once found the log would be dried & decorated with ribbons & flowers and such, and then it’s known as Badnjak. Once finished it would be  douced with rakija and then on Christmas Eve it would be burned in the home’s fireplace. I am still not sure I can bring myself to pretty up a hump of wood or wasting perfectly good rakija, but the burning I can do, so I plan to add it to my traditions list.Thrifty Travel Mama | An Expat Christmas - Croatia (Chasing the Donkey)

Traditions From Australia

Pig on a spit

Yup, a little piggy will rotate around a big long metal skewer on a bed of hot coals from around 9am on Christmas morning in our backyard. After about 3 hours, it’ll be carved and will be placed next to the Christmas Wheat as the main meal for the day. What it will be served with is still unknown, a little surprise as to what the family plans is part of the excitement.Thrifty Travel Mama | An Expat Christmas - Croatia (Chasing the Donkey)

My sparkly tree + stockings + gift sack

I always have a big tree covered in a myriad of baubles, birds, beads and whatnot. This year will be no different, except that I only packed a small box of my favourites from home, and this year I’ll be at the shops scooping up a bunch of new decorations.

I loved having my very own Christmas sack that I laid out on Christmas Eve, so I had one made for my son that we used for his first Christmas, and I am looking forward to stuffing it this year.

Equally, we never had the red and white stockings hanging in my house as a child and I always used to see them and want them, so I had those made also. They’ll be hung on Christmas Eve along with the sack close by the tree to round out my must have traditions.

I hope that the mix of new and old will be right, so that it still feels like home, yet we embrace our new country. I guess in a few days time I will know. Until then Stretan Bozic {Merry Christmas} from my family to yours.

Chasing the Donkey blogs about expat life in Croatia where she lives with her husband and son.  Follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter.

And once again, a very special thank you to all of our guest bloggers who took the time to contribute to our Expat Christmas series:

From around the world, we wish you a merry Christmas!

Signature-MarigoldPhoto credits for Expat Christmas graphic here and here.

8 thoughts on “An Expat Christmas: From Australia to Croatia

  1. Pingback: More Christmas in Croatia - Chasing the Donkey

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