What do the Croats do on Easter? I can tell you this much – many things that Americans don’t 🙂
Ok in the olden days we were told to give up something for Lent, which is more or less out of fashion even here. The 40 days of Lent are off limits for church weddings..most 40 day spans are a type of preparation or training period – like 40 days on Noah’s ark, 40 days fasting in the desert and so on.
But back to Easter. When holy week arrives, kids are antsy to get out of school (can’t say I blame them). Usually asparagus has begun to spring its bud-like little head. It seems to be a ritual to get out of the house on spring mornings to pick a fistful of free aspagus and prepare asparagus and eggs or asparagus soup with all its health benefits. The chickens have begun laying eggs after their winter pause and people get ready to make the local favorite – Easter Bread also known as Pogača, Sirnica. There are probably other names for it as well.
Round and raised up, it is like a tiny hill in the shape of a cheese round, which is probably how it got its name Sirnica (sir means cheese in Croatian). Flavored with vanilla, rum, orange and lemon peel and lots of fresh eggs, it is both sweet and mild.
A day or two before Easter, people bring their fresh eggs or other foods to the church where the priest blesses them. They make the Easter bread a day or so before Easter so it will be fresh and sweet for Easter morning consumption. Extra loaves are safe to freeze.
(The recipe is at the end.)
Nowadays, people here shy away from commercial dyes, so easter eggs are colored with other more natural options, like boiled beets, onion peels and bay leaves for a nice dark reddish colored egg. Try it – it works – with no worries of side effects 🙂
Whether you celebrate Easter or not, it is also the benchmark for the opening of the tourist season, Croatia’s biggest industry. From April to June most tourists are bicylists and hikers. From mid June the families start coming.. and for most, it is the best time of the year.
And now for the Easterbread recipe. How to make Croatian Easter Bread
It has photos and a video – so enjoy!!