wedding avaMany Croatian wedding traditions are truly unique. You won’t find anything like them in other countries. Like offering a piece of apple instead of an engagement ring. Or serving food at the wedding dinner almost until morning. Or having a barjaktar who leads the wedding procession. Croatia has such an interesting wedding culture! Let’s find out more about these and many other Croatian wedding customs.

Engagement fruit

Usually, when you ask for your partner’s hand in marriage, you offer an engagement ring. But Croatians in the past did something very different. There is an old Croatian tradition to offer a piece of fruit with coins pressed into it. This item is called an “obiljezje”. And if the girl accepts this fruit, she becomes officially engaged.

Rag doll as bride

There is a fun and spectacular wedding tradition in Croatia – trying to fool the groom with a false bride. When he comes to the bride’s house on the wedding morning, he is let in by her male relative. And then the bride’s family tries to fool the groom by offering him a false bride – sometimes it’s her granny dressed in a wedding dress or a large rag doll, or even a man in a wedding gown. Everybody laughs and cheers. At last, the bride comes out to her groom and they leave for the ceremony with their wedding procession.

Rosemary corsage for wedding guests

Croatian wedding guests traditionally receive small rosemary branches when they come to the wedding and pin it to their clothes on the left side of the chest. It can be a single branch or a composition decorated with red, white, and blue ribbons (the colors of the Croatian flag). Usually, when a person is given rosemary, he or she leaves some money in the basket instead for the couple.

Crazy barjaktar

When the wedding procession is going to the church or wedding hall, it is led by a person called “barjaktar” (literally “banner holder”). He carries the Croatian flag and sets the pace and mood of the whole procession. This person has to be very cheerful, loud, positive, and maybe even a bit crazy to perform these important responsibilities.

Stepping on feet and sprinting to the church door

Another curious wedding tradition in Croatia is for the bride and groom to compete over who’s going to be the leader in the family. To find out this, they try to step on each other’s feet – whoever wins, that person will supposedly be the head of the family. Or the bride and groom sprint for the church door – the future leader will reach the door first.

If you want to dance with the bride, pay for it

After midnight, every wedding guest gets a chance to dance with the bride, but they have to pay some money for it. The maid of honor holds a basket and people throw money in it for the dance with the blushing bride. The length of your dance depends on how much money you gave – the maid of honor decides how long to let you dance. If you want more time, pay again. And since Croatian wedding receptions often last all night long, the bride and her wedding guests have plenty of time to dance.

The last course is served at 4 AM

Croatian weddings are plentiful. Food keeps coming for hours, course after course. Even late at night. The last course is often served somewhere near 4:00 AM. And it’s not just a salad or a fruit bowl, the dishes are nourishing and heavy. For example, Croatian traditional goulash.

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