Quirky Quest into the Past

Surprising customs and traditions in Croatia

By Croatian National Tourist Board

Treasure Trove

As a country inhabited for thousands of years and home to a variety of cultures throughout history, Croatia is a treasure trove of unusual and sometimes surprising traditions and customs that people still observe to this day. Most of them relate to history, folklore, superstition and religion, including pre-Christian rituals—or some mix of all these elements.

False brideCroatian National Tourist Board

Which Bride?!

Here's a Croatian tradition related to love takes a funny turn. A Croatian groom, on his wedding day, walks with a group of friends and wedding guests to his bride’s home. Once there, he’s greeted by her father, and a tongue-in-cheek argument takes place as the father decides whether or not to let his daughter marry. A “false bride” appears in place of the real one and the groom’s father attempts to pass this person off as the real bride.

False brideCroatian National Tourist Board

Man dressed as a false brideCroatian National Tourist Board

The joke is that the false bride may be the bride’s grandmother, or even a male friend or relative dressed in women’s clothes. The custom may go back to weddings being viewed as transactions between families but today, it’s more about fun and tradition.

Funny grandpa dressed as a false brideCroatian National Tourist Board

After a lot of comic antics, the real bride appears, and the couple and the wedding party proceed to the church.

On the Island of Hvar

A much tamer cultural practice followed nowhere else in the world is that of agave lace, made only by Benedictine nuns on the Croatian island of Hvar.

Geometric Hvar laceCroatian National Tourist Board


The delicate, intricate spiderweb-like lace is created from the fibers of agave plants, which grow prolifically on the island. The fibers are harvested during certain times of the year, spun into fine threads, and then made into one-of-a-kind pieces of lace used for tablecloths, doilies and clothing.

Lace on tableCroatian National Tourist Board

While the lace is made only on Hvar, it is famous throughout Croatia and treasured as souvenirs and keepsakes, along with the lacemaking traditions of Pag and Lepoglava.

A flower made of laceCroatian National Tourist Board

These historic lacemaking customs are such an important part of Croatian patrimony that they were inscribed in 2009 on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Hvar Lace MuseumCroatian National Tourist Board

Hvar Lace Museum

Located on the Hvar Island can boast of a rich lacework collection.

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