It’s St John's Eve - perfect time to learn the language of forest animals. It sounds pretty easy: all you have to do is go deep into the woods, protect yourself with a circle of salt and keep your sanity.
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It's Christmas season again, and I hear there will be a Santa run organized in Zagreb. Wouldn't it be even more fun to organize a competition between all Croatian Christmastide gift bringers? Every single one would have some strenghts and some weaknesses. Take Saint Lucy, for example. She would have some trouble running while carrying her eyes on a silver plate, right? And St Nicholas doesn't need to take care just of himself, he also has to drag his woolly pet Krampus in chains around. Oh, and kids, make some room for the Three Wise Men, if you don't want a black kiss on your cheek, they love to do that...
Iris is a flower that bears the name of divine messenger of ancient Greek gods. In Croatia, we took it a step further, naming it in honour of the ruler of the Slavic pantheon himself! We call the flower perunika.
Noise, food, alcohol, fireworks and holiday greetings! That’s New Years celebration all right. And has been since the dawn of time, at least when it comes to Indo-European traditions. It turns out that all the major things we do to mark the transition from one year to another, are in fact parts of ancient Roman and Greek rituals, especially Saturnalia.
Before Zagreb adopted a pile of imported Christmas traditions some century and a half ago, there had been a custom of hanging a wreath made of evergreens above the dining table. The wreath, usually referred to as kinč, used to be decorated with little red apples and golden nuts. Later on, the decoration expanded to licitar cookies, paper ornaments, candies wrapped in shiny paper…