In a past post, I discussed the importance of sociolinguistics – how culture ties into language – and to continue that conversation, I’d like to share culture guides for various countries around the world to help you make your travels and language learning that much more enjoyable.
I’ve partnered with Kuperard to create this series and I’m really excited to share a few cultural tidbits about different countries, including a bit about a country that is a part of my heritage. Here are 9 interesting facts about Croatian culture.
1 // “What’s on the table is free”
Enjoying the food while eating out or at the home of your Croatian friends? No one will judge you if you help yourself to seconds. A hearty appetite is welcome and is often viewed as a compliment to your host. It’s sometimes considered rude to only eat a little or leave a full plate, so be sure to go to meals with a big appetite.
2 // Humor is greatly appreciated
Croatians appreciate a good sense of humor. It is always well meaning and is not meant to be offensive, so if you find yourself as the subject of a joke, know that it’s all meant in good fun.
3 // Football (soccer)
Football is extremely popular in Croatia and you may often hear locals have heated conversations about the sport.
4 // “The Cuisine of Regions”
Food is an important part of Croatian culture and its cuisine dates back to the proto-slavic period. The first Croatian cookbook is said to have been written in 1813 by Ivan Bierling for the preparation of some 554 dishes.
5 // Bring gifts when invited to someone’s home
When invited to someone’s home, it’s polite to bring gifts. Flowers will do, as long as they aren’t chrysanthemums (these are reserved for funerals), and sweets for the children of the house are a must!
6 // Lumping Croatians in with any other Slavic nation
Croatians fought hard for their independence, only having recently regained it in the 1990s. A quick way to cause offense would be to lump them in with the other nations from ex-Yugoslavia.
7 // Ti and Vi
In Croatian, there are two ways to say “you”. The first is “ti”, which is informal and used amongst friends and family. The second is “vi” which is both the plural form of “you” as well as the formal form of “you”. The formal “vi” can be made even more formal in writing by capitalizing the first letter so that it is written “Vi”.
8 // Greeting
You need to address people exactly the way they introduce themselves, so listen carefully. If they place a title before their name, be sure to use it! As far as how people greet, greetings are similar to the French bisou, a kiss on each cheek, but only for those who are familiar with one another. For those who are meeting for the first time or who do not know each other well, a firm handshake made with eye contact is typical.
9 // Physical Contact
Croatians touch each other frequently while speaking and often stand close together, especially when they know one another well. They are also known for being enthusiastic speakers, so don’t be surprised if it feels as though your conversation partner speaks a little louder than what you’re used to.
This guide was assembled with the support of Culture Smart! Croatia. The Culture Smart books by Kuperard publishers are a part of t a series of nearly 100 titles. You can purchase the books on Amazon and learn more about the company here.
What about you? What are some fun cultural facts you’ve learnt about the places and languages that you’re studying? Leave me a note in the comments below!
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My name is Shannon Kennedy and I'm the language lover, traveler, and foodie behind Eurolinguiste. I'm also the Resident Polyglot at Drops and the Head Coach of the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge.