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All Saint’s Day (Dan svih svetih) in Croatia

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

On November 1st, all across the world, people celebrate All Saint’s Day. In Croatia, this day is called Dan svih svetih, Svi sveti, 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…

Dan svih svetih – All Saint’s Day in Croatia

When did All Saint’s Day begin?

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

The martyr’s memorial, shared by different churches, has been celebrated since the 4th century. The first traces of the general celebration of All Saints was first recorded in Antioch on Sunday after the Pentecost. This 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.

How All Saint’s Day is celebrated in Croatia?

In the days leading up to November 1, you will see flowers for sale everywhere. Markets and shops will overflow with flowers of every color. The most common ones are yellow and white Chrysanthemums called krizanteme. Vendors will sell flowers and lampioni (lanterns) by the road and at the entrances to groblje (cemetery).

A few days before All Saint’s Day, people go to the cemetery to clean and decorate graves with flowers. On All Saint’s 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.

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 are traveling from afar. 

Here in Croatia, it is not just a Catholic holiday but a state-supported one as well, which means that 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 get your shopping done by October 31st.

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

[Read: Croatia National Holidays]

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

View other national holiday posts

Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. It is important to understand that Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change and each personal case is individual and different rules may apply. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant. We can recommend one if you contact us.

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