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Santa Claus in Croatia

The Croatian Santa Clause Tradition


Painting of St. Nicholas in Croatia

Painting of St. Nicholas in Croatia

CC BY-NC Lawrence OP
Djed Mraz, the Croatian Santa, is also known as Djed Božičnjak. Djed Mraz means Grandfather Frost, and Djed Božičnjak means Grandfather Christmas. These characters are most analogous to Santa Claus, but Croatian's also have Sveti Nikola, or St. Nicholas who has an important place in Croatia's Christmas Traditions.

Sveti Nikola: Croatia's St. Nick

Sveti Nikola – St. Nick – brings gifts to children on his day in December. On December 5th, St. Nicholas Eve, children place their shoes on windowsills. On St. Nicholas Day, those shoes are filled with sweets and small gifts. Sveti Nikola may also be accompanied by Krampus, who represents the dark side of children's personality. Krampus leaves switches for children to remind them to be good the following year.

It should be noted that beyond his role as a pre-Christmas gift-giver, St. Nick is important to Croatia for his connection with the sea, too, and his image may be used to protect fisherman and sailors when they are out to sea.

Djed Mraz: Grandfather Frost

Djed Mraz, or Djed Djed Božičnjak is responsible for bringing presents to children on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, celebrated in Croatia on December 24 and 25, respectively.

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