A Season of Hope, Love, Peace & Joy
author: Marijana Rebić
Over 85% of people in Croatia are Catholics so Advent is an important time for them. Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the birth of Jesus Christ, and consists of four weeks that directly precedes the Christmas and that symbolize the four millennia, as the Bible passed since the creation of the world until the arrival of Christ. Preparations for Christmas start on 25th November which is St Catherine’s day.
Common sign of Advent, which points to the Christmas and call for family prayer, is the Advent wreath, which is woven from evergreen branches, but so that there is no beginning and no end which means the eternity. The wreath are inserted four candles indicating four dividing line in human history: creation, incarnation, redemption, and the end. The first Advent Sunday, the first candle lights, and so on until Christmas…
Christmas is at the door! Towards the Christmas in Croatia and New Year, all of December is marked by the sign of Advent throughout Croatian cities, towns, willages..
In the Advent time families are decorating the pine tree in the home, and under the tree are regularly put the Nativity Scene or other sign of Christmas. Nativity Scene, which are placed under the Christmas tree indicate an event that is being celebrated – the birth of Jesus and clearly indicate that he was born in a barn. The oldest still preserved Nativity Scene are located in the garden chapel of the Franciscans on the island Kosljun of island Krk situated in Region Kvarner.
Croatian Christmas traditions and customs have changed over the years, but some of the oldest ones have managed to stick, and are still practiced today.
One of the traditions that are still present today is to sowing Christmas Wheat that stands for life and fertility. On St Barbara or St Lucy was sown wheat, a symbol of life in the Catholic. The custom is pre-Christian in origin, but today has Christian symbolism, and its purpose is prosperous year.
It is interesting that this custom is not in Protestant communities and in most of Europe, and with Portugal and southern Italy, can only be found in the Croatian region. In Croatia, until 1850 did not decorate a Christmas tree.
Croatian people love their tradition and are very proud of their habits, especially in the Christmas time. The whole country simply lives for that time of year when the streets are full of joy and carollers, the smell of cooked flavored wine and local sweet specialties.
There is undoubtedly something special about Christmas time that warms our hearts so powerfully. In the midst of the Covid 19, the decorated streets will not be full of joy, but our hearts will be warms for close family and virtual for friends.
There is a space in my closet, a secret place I use to hide Christmas presents for my family and friends in the months leading up to the Christmas celebration. It’s an opportunity to set aside special moments to fully experience the joy and the miracle of Christmas with my family, to focus on Christ’s birth in the midst of the Covid 19 chaos that covers our holiday .
Hopeful Advent stories are windows into the wonderful possibilities life has to offer. Stories of hope bring to life the ways in which people support each other, miracles make lives better, and individuals find new roads through challenging times. Whether you have time, money, a car or even a phone, there are big and small ways you can help others. Many people around you need help and contributions, especially those in communities hardest hit by COVID-19.
Prayers and human responsibility during the Coronavirus Pandemic for health care providers are at the epicenter of the Coronavirus response — providing quality and compassionate care amidst very complex challenges. In that way,we can uplift their work, their families and all those who need hope and healing through prayer.
In the Advent time of giving and love, the people of Croatia, like all people of goodwill, have the opportunity to help the groups most in need. For each day of Advent it shows how we can help the people in some of the all regions in some practical ways.
I always try to be friendly and if people need help, I will offer it. Doing a “good deed” always makes me feel good, specially in Advent time. Maybe this year you would consider joining me?