Croatia, Croatian Hrvatska, officially Republic of Croatia, republic (1995 est. pop. 4,666,000), 21,824 sq mi (56,524 sq km), in the northwest corner of the Balkan Peninsula. Croatia is bounded by Slovenia in the northwest, by Hungary in the northeast, by Yugoslavia in the east, by Bosnia and Hercegovina in the south and east, and by the Adriatic Sea in the west. Zagreb is the capital. There are important seaports at Rijeka, Split, Pula, Zadar, Šibenik, and Dubrovnik.
Croatia is a former Yugoslav republic on the Adriatic Sea; it is about the size of West Virginia. Part of Croatia is a barren, rocky region lying in the Dinaric Alps. The Zagorje region north of the capital, Zagreb, is a land of rolling hills, and the fertile agricultural region of the Pannonian Plain is bordered by the Drava, Danube, and Sava Rivers in the east. Over one-third of Croatia is forested.
Croatian Christmas traditions began on December 6th – St. Nicholas Day. On the eve of St. Nicholas Day, the children put out their shoes. St. Nicholas would fill the “good” children’s shoes with candy, toys, oranges and pennies. The “bad” children’s shoes would be filled with coal and onions.
On St. Lucy’s Day, December 13th, Croatian ladies would put grains of wheat into a saucer and water it every day. It is said that if the wheat grows green and tall, you will have a good and prosperous year.
Christmas Eve was spent at Midnight Mass. Christmas day was a time to spend with family and friends eating all the special food prepared for the holiday season.