There is only a couple of days till Christmas, I hope presents are under trees, food more or less prepared, just in time for festivities. Just like anywhere else in Christian world, Christmas is special in Split and Dalmatia, this part of Croatia has a lot of holiday traditions coming from its rich history. So, what to do to blend in, and celebrate Christmas like real Splićanin?
Although festivities begin days before, don't miss to spend a morning before Christmas with all those people who will flock into the old town. Weather forecast looks very good, just what we like in Split, with lot of sun, so there is no reason not to visit locations of Advent in Split, either at Riva or in Gjardin, the city park. Full program is constantly updated on Visit Split Facebook page.
But it's not the only option. It's always fun on all city squares, many local cafés, restaurants and bars will take care of all those coming for their share of good spirit. Just stroll around the city, you can't miss wherever you go; music, drinks, food, nice people and city's beauty are waiting for you.
To enjoy more traditional customs, make sure to be around the Diocletian's Palace Western gate around noon, where you can enjoy some of the best klapa singing you have ever heard. Same thing happens there on December 31, but that's another story.
Celebrating Christmas in Split and Dalmatia has a lot to do with feasting, too. What to eat? On day before Christmas fasting suggests fish, but not just any - for centuries cod fish is main dish in the whole Mediterranean, although that fish doesn't even live in our waters. To learn more about that, here is one of my old blogs. There is also a tradition of public giveaway of cod fish, mostly for people in need, but anyone can come to Prokurative square, starting at 11 am, for its share of holiday love and caring. To sweeten your holiday meal, simple and obvious choice is fritule, small balls made of dough, usually with raisins inside, and fried. Even listening people how they make it is fun, because there is no way anyone will admit someone else cooks them better.
Probably the most unusual custom is an afternoon Midnight Mass. It sounds strange, but it describes exactly what happens on a Christmas Eve in front of the centuries old little church Our Lady of Bethlehem on southern slopes of Marjan forest park. Mass begins at 4 pm, and serenity of Marjan is just right scenery for an event like this.
With events organized at night, usual way to spend Christmas eve is still with family at home. And when you wake up on Christmas Day, share presents with beloved ones, take a little walk to Bačvice beach. With weather forecasted for these days, you can be sure that you will see some picigin played in this beach' shallow waters. If you are brave enough, join them. Otherwise, put sunglasses on, sip a drink and enjoy the view.