Many Croatian holidays are religious events, but Croatians also celebrate their traditional culture through local and national festivals.
Each Croatian town holds its own carnival, which features local songs, crafts and dances featuring traditional folk costumes. Some festivals go on for days and also feature parades with floats, as well as much feasting. While some festivals occur during the summer, many are held in the winter before the beginning of Lent, the Christian period of fasting before Easter.
Easter is a generally a more solemn holiday, observed with processions and church services. People also decorate Easter eggs, called pisance, which are painted with homemade dyes and given as gifts. In the summer and early fall, Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Assumption and the Birth of the Virgin by going to special church services and making pilgrimages. All Saints Day (November 1) is an important time for families, who visit the graves of their relatives and light candles there.
Christmas is the most important holiday of the year. Celebrations begin on St. Nicholas' Day (December 6), when children leave out stockings and receive small gifts for being good although they are also warned of a visit from the devil krampus, who kidnaps bad children in his bag. December 13 is the feast of St. Lucy; by custom, the mother of the family "plants" wheat grains in a round dish. By Christmas Eve, green shoots have sprouted and are tied with the Croatian tricolour ribbon of red, white and blue. Three candies are placed in the centre of the sprouting wheat and this remains the centrepiece of the Christmas table until the Feast of the Three Kings on January 6. The Christmas tree, a borrowed urban custom, is decorated on Christmas Eve, while Christmas Day is a time for feasting and visiting family.