Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas in Omis

Preparations for holiday start by giving presents on the 6Th December ( St. Nicholas Day ) and on the 13Th of December ( St. Lucy Day ). This tradition dates back to the 11Th century.

One of traditions that is still followed today is to sow Christmas Wheat that stands for life and fertility. This tradition does not exist in Protestant communities and in most of Europe, only in Croatia, Portugal and southern Italy. Until Christmas, the wheat grows in a water filled container, decorates the table on Christmas tree or in a corner of the room. The wheat is trimmed and wrapped with a red, white and blue ribbon. After Christmas, the wheat is given to birds since nothing from Christmas time should be thrown away.

Until 1850. people in Croatia didn't decorate Christmas trees, it is interesting that the first Christmas trees had been deciduous and that coniferous trees were only used after intensive afforestation. Trees were decorates with oranges, apples, walnuts, hazelnuts,...

The creche, that is places under the decorated tree is reminder on the event that is being celebrated and that is the birth of Christ. According the documents the first creche was made by St.Francis in 1223., now you can fin them in every home in Croatia.

Before people started decorated the trees in Croatia we used to do this every Christmas. Today, this tradition you can only find in Croatia villages. Three larger tree-stumps was brought into the house on Christmas Eve, placed into the fireplace and used ti light all of the candles in the house, symbolize the Holy Trinity. Christmas food and wine are also added to the fire because it was believed that the largest tree-stump fire would bring good to whole member oh the household.

The Straw tradition was followed much longer than tree-stump tradition. The moment when the head of the household brought the Straw into the house, that was a moment for Christmas celebrations to begin. The majority of the Straw was spread on the floor under the table, after the dinner all members of the family sit on the Straw and chat unit the time for Church. In some regions people used to sleep on Straw on Christmas Eve.

It is tradition to fast on Christm
as Eve and to stay awake until the midnight, when is time to go in Church. People had to finish all of their household chores and prepare food and desert before the evening bells rang on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day there was always meat and cookies, even in the poorest families.

I present you one of traditional Omis Christmas recipes cold "fritule":

  1. 1/2kg of flour
  2. 2 eggs
  3. 2-3 dg of yeast
  4. a little of rakija (Brandy)
  5. a little bit of grated lemon peal
  6. a little bit of salt
  7. a spoon of sugar
  8. water if necessary
-mix the ingredients into a mixture twice as thick as pancake mix and leave on the side until it grows to twice its size, afterwards, use a spoon to take some of the mixture out and fry in hot oil, once finished, cover "fritule" with vanilla sugar

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