Svi sveti – All Saints’ Day in Croatia

Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb
All Saint’s Day at the Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb

People all across the world annually celebrate All Saints’ Day on November 1. In Croatia, this day is called Svi sveti, Dan svih svetih, Sisvete or Sesvete.

Dan svih svetih is a day when families and friends get together to honor those they have lost. They are not simply mourning but celebrating the life they led and remembering the good times they shared.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

When did All Saints’ Day begin?

The martyr’s memorial, shared by different churches, has been celebrated since the 4th century. The first traces of All Saints’ general celebration were recorded in Antioch on the Sunday after the Pentecost. The custom is also mentioned in the 74th homily of St. John Chrysostom and has remained in Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches until today.

The Pope chose November 1 as the anniversary date for the dedication of a chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter to the relics of the “holy Apostles and all the saints, martyrs and confessors, and all the perfect righteous who stand in peace all over the world.”

At the time of Charlemagne, this Great Feast had already been extensively expanded. King Louis the Pious proclaimed it in the 835th Communion Feast. The proclamation was issued at the request of Pope Gregory IV with the baptism of all bishops.

Cemetery in Perušić a few days before All Saint's Day
Cemetery in Perušić, Croatia a few days before All Saint’s Day

How All Saints’ Day is celebrated in Croatia?

lanterns in front of the cross
A tradition is also to light lanterns in front of Jesus’s crosses

In the days leading up to November 1, you will see (real and plastic) flowers for sale everywhere in Croatia. Local markets and shops will overflow with flowers of every color. The most common ones are yellow and white Chrysanthemums called krizanteme in Croatian.

A few days before All Saints’ Day, people go to the cemetery to clean and decorate graves with flowers. Vendors sell flowers and lampioni (lanterns) by the road and at the entrances to groblje (cemetery).

On All Saints’ Day, Croatian families flock to cemeteries across the country to visit the dead and leave flowers and lanterns behind. The biggest display will be at Mirogoj, Croatia’s largest cemetery in northern Zagreb, where former president Franjo Tuđman is buried.

Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb
All Saint’s Day at the Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb

After the cemetery visit, many families return home for a large feast and celebration. This day is a good opportunity to hang out with your extended family if they travel from afar. 

Here in Croatia, it is not just a Catholic holiday but also a state-supported one, which means it is a non-working day. Shops, markets, workplaces, government offices, and postal service will all be closed on this day, so be sure to complete your shopping by October 31.

Except for the Catholic Church, this feast is also celebrated in the Church of England as well as in many evangelical churches.

[Read: Croatian national holidays]

View other national holiday posts

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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