Do you plan to visit Croatia in the near future ? And will it be your first time visiting a Croatian family?
There are certain common customs in Croatia you should know about when visiting friends or family, but don’t worry! ... they mostly involve drinking and eating. Here are some tips and tricks to help you leave a good impression and understand Croatian customs!
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When preparing for the visit it’s always a good idea to remember to bring a small gift for the family you're visiting. No one will get angry if you don’t bring anything, but Croatians love these kinds of tokens of appreciation.
If you’re not sure what to get:
Coffee (kava), chocolate (čokolada) or wine (vino) are always great options
If the family you’re visiting has kids, don’t forget to get something small for them as well :-)
Hug me, I'm Croatian!
Croatians are generally an open and expressive people, so be prepared to be greeted with an enthusiastic hug (zagrljaj), a kiss (pusa) on the cheek and a pat on the back when you arrive at someone’s house in Croatia!
Strukli are a traditional Croatian dish from Zagorje
Arriving late and talking small
It’s common for guests to arrive a little late(e.g. 15 minutes), so if you have a habit of not turning up on time in general, you’ll fit in well :-)
When you arrive it’s common to take your shoes off, and you might be offered some slippers (papuče) to politely prevent you from ruining their carpet or wooden floors.
Conversation during your visit often starts with comments about the ride there and traffic, followed by small talk about family members, usually about their health. After that, people talk about different topics, but there will always a liberal dose of gossip :-)
As for food, usually there will usually be something to eat like cold starters with prosciutto and cheese (meza, pršut, sir), schnapps (rakija) that is often home-made spritzer (gemišt) or beer (pivo) and coffee (kava).
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As a warning: this is the least you should expect, and if you’re arriving around lunchtime you may well be welcomed by a 4-5 course meal. Hence, our urgent advice: arrive on an empty stomach! :-)
Bear in mind that - when you are offered food - you should half-heartedly sa "no" at least twice before you accept it. On the other hand, it is not polite to turn anything down.
Accepting a second helping is a sign that you are enjoying the food, it is not polite to eat little so don't leave a lot of food on the plate. The host will think that the food wasn't good.
It is always a good idea to compliment the food prolifically, especially if it is homemade - the host will always emphasise when something is homemade.