It is surprising that despite all the talk of how wonderful and beautiful Croatia is, a relatively small proportion of people have actually been there. Whilst we have all been to Greece, Portugal, Spain and France, you really are in the lucky elite if your European travel destination ‘ticked’ list includes Croatia. Described by many as “heaven on earth”, Croatia’s outstanding natural beauty fortunately remains unspoilt.
If the Christmas decorations in the shops, the obtrusive “book your Christmas dinner here” signs hanging from the pubs and the looming winter blues are wearing you down, booking a break in this stunningly visual country could be the answer to lift your spirits. With St Martin’s day in Croatia approaching, mid- November could be the perfect time to jet off to discover Croatia’s relatively undiscovered beauty and culture.
The making and selling of wine has been a tradition in Croatia for many centuries and remains a prominent and proud part of its heritage. If travelling through the winding roads, embedded by thousands of vineyards soaking up the warm rays of sunlight, whilst stopping to visit in traditional and interesting wine cellars to sample the local produce sounds like heaven, then you are bound to enjoy Martinje – St Martin’s Day.
Held in mid-November each year, when the wine growing season is at its closing stages, wine and Catholicism are combined for a day of rituals, celebrations and feasts. The Martinje festivities take part in Croatia’s capital, Zagreb and in the vineyard towns and villages of the Zagreb municipality.
The celebrations are traditional and elaborate and include the roasting of a goose. But what makes Martinje particularly interesting is the ‘blessing’ of the new wine season, in celebration of the young, unfermented wine being transformed into deliciously mature wine. The ‘blessing’ is resonant of a christening, where a play is acted out including a godfather and a priest.
An abundance of festivals and celebrations dedicated to wine are held in Croatia each year, but St Martin’s Day is by far the most significant and entertaining. With such devout joy, heritage and entertainment promised amidst the beauty of the golden autumn leaves falling on its pictorial landscapes, being in Croatia on November 11 should be a high priority on everybody’s agenda.
For more information of St Martin’s Day and other Croatian delights visit: www.findcroatia.com.