Easter pisanice
Davor Puklavec/PIXSELLEaster pisanice

A gastronomic guide to Croatian Easter

This time of year is rich in tradition and cuisine – here’s what you can look forward to over the holiday weekend

Written by
Jan Bantic

In mainly Catholic Croatia, Easter is a time of tradition, family and food.

The most immediately colourful and eye-catching example is the dyeing, hand-painting and decorating of hard-boiled eggs. Known as pisanice, these are then brought to the family dining table on Easter Sunday, gifted as a symbol of love and brightening up the breakfast spread.

Particularly fun is the tradition of egg battles, where each person takes an egg, pairs off and lightly taps theirs against their opponent’s. The victor is the one whose shell remains intact – or the least damaged.

'Egg battle' for Easter
Dusko Jaramaz/PIXSELL'Egg battle' for Easter

Ham is the main star of the first meal on Easter Sunday, usually a whole joint that has been smoked and boiled to delicious results. Paired with spring onions and horseradish, it is often supplement in many families with a spread of sliced cured meats and, of course, those colourfully boiled eggs, though customs may vary.

More observant Catholics will often take their Sunday breakfast foods to be blessed by their church the night before. After this hearty breakfast, various traditional Easter breads make an appearance. In Istria and Dalmatia particularly, the sweet, rich pinca is the likely choice, while the savoury vrtanj is more common in the Zagorje region.

Pinca bread and pisanice
Dusko Jaramaz/PIXSELLPinca bread and pisanice

It’s not just Easter Sunday that has its traditional meals. In classic Catholic fashion, Good Friday sees fish take centre stage on the dining table. The type depends largely on where you are: locals in coastal towns prefer cod, while inland folks are more likely to go for carp, given the easier access to freshwater.

Come Easter Monday, and roast lamb or turkey dominates the table, often served with mlinci strips marinated and softened by the juice of the bird.

Easter in Croatia is a filling experience over the whole weekend. If you find yourself invited to join a family for their holiday gathering, don't forget to bring an appetite!

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