Croats are extremely proud of their heritage and culture and are thus staunch nationalists. They call their country "Our Beautiful Homeland" ("Lijepa naša"), which is also the title of the national anthem. The sense of nationalism comes both from their long and rich culture as well as a legacy of foreign invasion and control.
Folklore plays a key role in preserving the culture. Life experiences are translated into verse, poetic songs, melodies, fairy tales, symbolic rituals, music, dance, costumes, and jewellery. Folksongs and poems often attest to the sentiment and regard between family members.
A Family Orientated People
The family is still the basis of the social structure. The extended family is the norm and relatives remain quite close with both the mother and the father’s sides. The family provides its members with a social network and assistance in times of need. Even though it is becoming increasingly common for the nuclear family to have its own house, Croatians will take in elderly parents rather than send them to a nursing home. Weekends are considered family time. Few Croatians will allow business concerns to interfere with this important part of their lives.
Customs and Etiquette in Croatia
Meeting and Greeting
. Greetings on initial meetings will tend to be formal and reserved.
. A handshake, direct eye contact and the appropriate greeting for the time of day are standard.
. "Dobro jutro" (good morning), "dobro dan" (good day), and "dobro veèer" (good evening).
. Address people with their honorific titles plus surname. If you are unsure of titles then use "Gospodin" for Mr, "Gospodja" for Mrs and "Gospodice" for Miss).
. Only close friends and family members tend to use first names. Never jump to first names terms without being invited to.
. Close friends may greet each other with an embrace and a kiss on each cheek. Again, wait until the Croatian initiates this form of greeting. Some older
. At social gatherings hosts introduce guests, usually starting with the women and then moving on to the men in a rough approximation of age order, oldest to youngest.
Gift Giving Etiquette
Some general gift giving tips include:
. If invited to someone’s house, bring flowers for the hostess. The host may be given a box of chocolates or a bottle of good wine.
. Do not give chrysanthemums as they are used at funerals and for gravestones.
. When giving flowers, make sure there are an odd number of stems.
. Gifts are generally opened when received.
Table manners are relatively casual as people like to eat and chat at meal times. There are however standards of good behaviour that should be adhered to. Remember, when in doubt, watch others and copy what they do.
. Wait to be shown where to sit.
. Table manners are Continental, i.e. the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
. At formal meals the napkin is unfolded and placed on the lap.
. Do not begin eating until the host signals to begin.
. Refusing second helpings initially is polite. After the host insists you should take more.
. Leaving a small amount of food on your plate indicates that you are finished eating.
New Year - January 1
Epiphany - January 6
Easter and Easter Monday - no date fixed
Labour Day - May 1
Independence Day - May 30
Antifascism Day - June 22
Assumption - August 15
All Saints Day - November 1
Christmas - 25 December 26