Things to know befor going to Croatia

Currency is KUNA (has 100 lipa). If you pay in cash in a shop, don’t expect to get 5, 10 or 20 lipa change. There are no women on Croatian banknotes. Lipa coins have plants on them. Kuna coins have animals on them.

When visiting someone, you always bring a small present for hosts. It is customary to bring coffee, chocolate for children. You can also bring a bottle of wine or a house plant. The most common coffee is Croatian brand Franck, a 250 grams package, called “ciglica” (a small brick). Coffee is made in džezva, a small traditional pot with a pouring lip and a long handle designed specifically to make Turkish coffee.

Cody McClain Brown is an American who married a Croatian girl and came to live in Croatia. He wrote a book “Propuh, papuče i punica” (Draft, slippers and mother-in-law ) about the differences between the USA and Croatia. ( The original title is Chasing a Croatian Girl: A Survivor’s Tale)

propuh  –  draft
papuče  –  slippers
punica   –   mother-in-law

Draft/draught: a flow of cool air in a room or other confined space (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary).
The popular belief is that draft (propuh, promaja) is very dangerous and can cause a number of diseases. According to our grandmothers, the draft is responsible for a number of health issues – headache, earache, cold, back pain and other more serious diseases.
Younger generations still avoid draft, just in case.

Guest slippers  (papuče za goste)
In most houses you should take off your shoes when you enter. Each family has several pairs of slippers (papuče) just for guests.

Crochet doilies
In all houses you can see lots of handmade doilies. The younger generations crochet less, but lace decorations made by  grandmothers are kept as a family treasure.

Catholic country
Vast majority of the population identify themselves as Catholic and in many households you can see crucifix, blessing stickers (the sticker is given by the priest during the annual blessing of the house) and catholic calendar. Many Croats are named after saints from the calendar and celebrate name days, which are just as important as birthdays.

People in Croatia eat little fish (about 8,5 kg a year per person). In Slavonia (region that Vinkovci is in) freshwater fish is eaten, primarily carp, but catfish and perch are also eaten. We eat a lot of meat, especially pork. It is important to have homemade
dried pork delicacies: sausages, bacon, ham,…

Brandy – it is important to have  good homemade brandy (RAKIJA). The most popular kinds are plum brandy – šljivovica and grape brandy – lozovača, komovica. We use brandy as a basis for making liqueurs – the most popular liqueurs are walnut liqueur and cherry liqueur.
Rakija is used as medicine: Walnut liqueur helps if you have stomach pain, grape brandy can be used for linings for various purposes: lowering the temperature, if you have a rash,…

It is safe to drink tap water.
One of the most popular  soft drinks is elderberry juice. Every  spring families make  their own elderberry syrup.

Murder on the Orient Express is one of Agathe Christie’s greatest novels. Vinkovci is mentioned in the novel (and films based on the novel,  of course). When Hercule Poirot asks where the train had stopped (because of heavy snowfall), staff tell him: “Between Vinkovci and Slavonski Brod.”

In Novo Selo, a part of Vinkovci with 4000 inhabitants, all families live in their own family houses. Men usually build houses by themselves, with the help of friends and relatives. After having built the house, they realize that they definitely must have a summer kitchen to keep the main house cool and free of strong odours by preparing meals elsewhere.

Most families have pets:  dogs or cats. Each family has more bicycles than family members. Children can play in the street or ride bikes with their friends and neighbours.

Croatian language has insanely many words for relatives and in-laws. For example UNCLE can be UJAK, TETAK or STRIC, depending on if he is someone’s brother from mother’s or father’s side of the family. MOTHER –IN-LAW can be  punica or svekrva, etc. Punica – wife’s mother.
There are not many people who really know all the words and know who is who.
On the other side, in Croatia people have godfathers, confirmation sponsors and marriage witnesses  – but they are all called KUM. Kum (female kuma) is a very important person, like a family member.

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