Friday, 15 April 2022

Sirnica: A Croatian Easter Delicacy

15 April 2020 - Sirnica or Pinca, is an indispensable part of any Easter table. Here’s a look at this traditional Croatian Easter delicacy and how you can try your hand at making your own!

Just a couple of days ago, I was having coffee with some colleagues and discussing Easter plans. A few were lamenting how far behind they were in their Easter baking, while others were exchanging recipes for all the delicious goodies, they were planning on making in the run up to Easter Sunday.

Since we were speaking of Easter treats, I simply had to ask “but, why is it when I translate Sirnica, Google tells me it’s cheesecake? But there’s no cheese in the recipe?”, “because it looks like cheese! With the shape and color”.

“Right! I think I’m going to try making it this weekend”, I said in full confidence of my amateur baking skills. A collective “noooooooooooooooooo!” ensued. “I don’t make it for Easter. No one does, only old ladies who have the time. Ma dai! So much work, almost 24 hours to finish it, waiting for it to rise and then kneading it, and rising again. No, no, I just buy it instead”.

What is Sirnica you might ask?


Before you know it, you've consumed the entire Sirnica. Image: Pinterest/Screenshot

Sirnica, as it’s known along the coastal regions of Croatia and Pinca, everywhere else, is a brioche-type sweet bread that graces every Easter holiday table. About a month before Easter, these orangey/yellow boules, topped with pearl or coarse sugar crystals, start lining the shelves of bakeries, cafes, and grocery stores.

At Easter, Sirnica is typically served along with a host of other delicious assorted kolači (sweet pastries). This is often accompanied by rich dishes like cottage cheese, eggs, ham and roasted lamb and fresh Spring vegetables like young onions and radishes, from the first harvests after Winter.

Rumor has it that Sirnica was created during the Venetian times, with some saying it may have even gotten its name from the dough resembling cheese during the mixing and kneading process, but the true origins of the confectionery remain unknown.

Historically, Sirnica would be made on Maundy Thursday, the day before Easter Friday commemorating the Last Supper of Christ. Families would then wrap them in cloth, letting the Sirnica rest before taking a loaf to Sunday Mass for it to be blessed and shared with the family after.

Today, each family has their own recipe, family secrets passed down through the generations. If you’d like to make your own, here’s a recipe you can follow from the book “Sweet Korčula” by Mrs. Franice Tasovac and bring a small part of Croatia's Easter traditions into your own home.

Sretan Uskrs everyone!


Their signature hue comes from the large quantity of eggs this recipe calls for. Image: Pinterest/Screenshot.

Ingredients - makes 6 Sirnica

6 egg yolks

3 egg whites

250 g white sugar

8 g vanilla sugar

300 ml of milk

120 g of fresh yeast

1½ teaspoon salt

250 g butter

1.2 kg of flour

1 lemon peel

2 orange peels

1 tablespoon rose rakija or brandy


1 egg white

1 tablespoon rose rakija or brandy

50 g Pearl sugar or white sugar


  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Crumble the fresh yeast with milk, stir in 200g of flour and allow the mixture to double.
  3. Mix the eggs with both sugars and salt, whisk until the mixture becomes frothy.
  4. Add brandy, lemon zest and orange zest to the egg mixture.
  5. When the dough has doubled, add in the melted butter and egg mixture. Start kneading the dough with your hands, gradually adding the remaining 1kg of flour. Old housewives say that you should be very angry before you start making dough and then vent your anger by kneading the dough with your hands.
  6. Add the flour until you have a plush, brioche-like dough that is not too stiff. You might not use the full 1kg of flour. Cover the bowl with the dough and let it double.
  7. Once doubled, knead the risen dough and divide it into six pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and leave them to rise on a sheet lined with greaseproof paper for one to two hours.
  8. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees celsius. Before baking, use scissors to cut a cross or a Y-shape into each dough ball and bake for 40 minutes.
  9. Using a fork, mix a little egg white with rakija, and brush the Sirnica towards the end of baking.
  10. Sprinkle with beaten sugar and return to the oven for a couple of minutes to allow the coating to dry.
Thursday, 1 July 2021

Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute Expanding Scientific Cooperation in Sarajevo (BiH)

July 2, 2021 - Dedication to researching and developing the field of social sciences sees the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute expanding scientific cooperation once again after Željko Holjevac's visit to Sarajevo, in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute, active as always, continues to expand its cooperation on scientifically explain social issues (symbolically noted as 2021 marks 30 years of the Institute).

As reported on their official website, Institute headmaster dr. Željko Holjevac visited Sarajevo, the capital city of the neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, from June 21-23.

The main story of that visit was a signed bilateral cooperation agreement between the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute and the Sarajevo Catholic Faculty. The agreement was signed by Holjevac and Faculty dean dr. Darko Tomašević.

Additionally, Holjevac was at the reception with Vrhbosanski's vice bishop Vinko Puljić.

„They talked about possible shared projects that would be adjusted to the tradition, culture and developing needs of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina“, informed Ivo pilar social research Institute.

Croatian Cultural Society Napredak (progress) also met with Holjevac. Napredak soon celebrates 120 years of work and was founded at the start of the 20th century when the famous Croatian social scientist Pilar was active in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Napredak plans various manifestations for their big anniversary, and dr. Holjevac discussed the possible cooperation in organizing an international scientific symposium regarding the identity of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ivo Pilar Institute working in full speed

This sort of cooperation in regards to researching the Croatian diaspora in the neighboring country where the Croatian historical role and present is significant is nothing new for the Ivo Pilar Social research Institute.

As TCN reported earlier in May, the Institute, along with scientific partners, organized a conference “Identity of Boka Kotorska Croatians“, and the three-day event gathered crucial scientific institutes in Croatia to the town of Tivat in the Bay of Croatian Saints in Montenegro.

Scientists from the Institute were also active this year as they participated at European Conference For Social Work Research (ECSWR), International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF) Conference, and also by presenting a book on Croatian Mountain Rescue Service in Gospić, or by presenting book Cultural Identity of Vukovar – Contribution to Investigating Heritage and Successors“ – to list some of the activities TCN reported on throughout 2021.

As 2021 marks the 30th year anniversary of the Ivo Pilar Institute, apart from the aforementioned actions (to which we can include nurturing relations with scientific colleagues in Slovakia or opening a new research office on Vis Island), several more goals were envisioned by the end of the year: to publish the first edition of critical translation for the book „South Slavic (Yugoslav) Question“ by Ivo Pilar from 1918, and to make and publish Pilar's Kaleidoskop of Croatian society.

With the active academic dynamic demonstrated by the Institute, there is no doubt there is enough quality and capacity to achieve these goals. It is only a matter of time in such a busy and productive schedule.

Learn more about Croatian Diaspora on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 21 December 2020

Richness of Traditional Croatian Christmas Songs In One Spotify Playlist

December 21, 2020 – Among many other things, Croatia can also be proud of its Christmas music tradition. For the perfect Christmas atmosphere, Croatian musician and guitarist Mihael Majetić singled out 54 of the best traditional Croatian Christmas songs in one Spotify playlist.

Traditional Croatian Christmas songs are considered the most numerous in the world, but it isn't easy to count them because they are mostly preserved by word of mouth. They are a precious and favorite part of the rich Croatian Christmas tradition, but also the Croatian cultural identity, and they belong to the most diverse and beautiful in the world.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many musical events had to be postponed this year, including many Christmas concerts showing their splendor every year. Choral church singing is also limited. However, despite the many negativities that 2020 brought to the Croatian and world music scene, some positive changes have taken place.

One of them is, of course, the arrival of the streaming service Spotify on the Croatian market, which allows Croatians to stream music without interruption, while Croatian musicians have another platform on which their music can be available. Therefore, this year, instead of experiencing live concerts, Croatians can stream music via Spotify. Due to this year's overall situation, traditional Croatian Christmas songs can be listened to exclusively in the pleasant home environment, but this in no way diminishes their beauty.

The incredible repertoire of traditional (but also popular) Croatian Christmas songs is now even more accessible. And to separate them all from the sea of different Christmas songs and gather them in one place, Croatian musician and guitarist with a London address, Mihael Majetić, compiled a playlist of 54 creative and original arrangements of traditional Croatian Christmas songs on Spotify.

A native of the Slavonian city of Valpovo, Mihael attended the Elly Bašić High School of Music in Zagreb and then continued his education at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London. He graduated last year and currently lives in London.

"The main guiding thought when choosing the songs was the quality of the arrangement and performance. The playlist includes exclusively Croatian traditional songs, but performed in different styles. So, in addition to the classics, you can also hear jazz, salsa, R'n'B, klapa, and tamburitza players. I do not claim that the list is final. I may even adjust it. And I will certainly be grateful if someone contacts me with suggestions that I may have missed," says Mihael, whose interest in the work of other musicians led him to listen to Croatian Christmas albums and thus making this playlist. In addition to performing and teaching guitar, he is also involved in arranging music.

The rich playlist includes some of the most famous names from the Croatian music scene, such as the recently deceased Krunoslav Kićo Slabinac, also one of the first Croatian musicians to record a Christmas album back in 1982. Although he was celebrated for his "bećarac "and rock songs, his album "Christmas with Kićo" became the best-selling Christmas album in the region of all time, with more than half a million copies sold. Out of the 11 Christmas songs from the album, two found their place on this playlist – "U to vrijeme godišta" ("At that time of year") and "Narodi nam se (kralj nebeski)" ("The king of heaven was born"). By the way, these are two very old archaic Croatian songs, and Kićo's versions are adorned with the inevitable overtones of tamburitza in the background.

The song "U to vrijeme godišta", or the old Chakavian form "U se vrime godišča" has its origin in the Latin tune "In hoc ani circulo" from the repertoire of St. Martial in the 11th century in the French city of Limoges. This tune spread from Italy to the Croatian south and from the Czech Republic to the Croatian north. Due to its popularity, it was given an honorary performance before the Christmas Gospel during Holy Mass.

"U to vrijeme godišta", otherwise the most widespread song in all three Croatian dialects (Chakavian, Kajkavian, and Shtokavian), according to musicologist Miha Demović, has a Glagolitic inscription, and the oldest dates from the 14th century. Apart from Kićo's songs, this playlist includes performances by the group Cubismo and composer Igor Kuljerić, conductor Tonči Bilić, and the Croatian Radio and Television Choir. Both versions of the song, Shtokavian and Chakavian, can be found on the playlist performed by the Mostar Cathedral Choir together with the Mostar Symphony Orchestra and composer Nikica Kalogjer, and singer Josipa Lisac and the Ivan Goran Kovačić Choir.

Apart from "U to vrijeme godišta," the song "Narodi nam se" is one of the oldest traditional Croatian Christmas songs. As reported by the Hrvatska katolička mreža (Croatian Catholic Network), and explained by Tihomir Prša, professor of church music at the Faculty of Teacher Education, University of Zagreb, this song dates back to the 13th century. Namely, Christ's name "young king" from the song reminds of the time of Arpadović in Croatia when the Hungarian kings wanted to crown their firstborn king as soon as possible. The expression "young year" reminds of the time when the new year began in Croatia on Christmas, and it was not after the 13th century. All worship services and all Croatian Christmas albums conclude with it.

The already mentioned performers also found a place on this playlist with the performances of the song "Narodi nam se se", and the performance of the Croatian singer Marija Husar from her album "Plesni Božić "("Dance Christmas") from 2009 is lovely.

The song "Kyrie eleison" which translated from Greek means "Lord, have mercy", is also one of the most famous Croatian Christmas songs, despite the Greek title and parts of the song in Greek. According to the first manuscript, it originates from the 19th century in Međimurje, and professor Prša reveals that the song was written by the Kolaj family. The author of the word was organist Janko Kolaj from Kotoriba. His son Ambrozius wrote down the words of a song from 1835.

Of the other traditional Croatian Christmas songs, the most famous are "Radujte se narodi" (Rejoice, people), "Veselje ti navješćujem" (I announce joy to you), "Svim na Zemlji" (To all on Earth), "Djetešce nam se rodilo" (A child was born), "Oj pastiri, čudo novo" (Oh shepherd, a new miracle). The only foreign song that is sung during the Christmas Mass in Croatia is "Silent Night". Christmas songs have a special meaning for Croats because they express their faith and find haven in them.

In addition to the already mentioned performers, the playlist includes performances by singer Marko Tolja, singer Mia Dimšić, composer Igor Geržina, pianist Matija Dedić, Jazz Orchestra of the Croatian Radio and Television (Big Band), music duo Marko & Laci featuring Zita and Ivana, composer Anđelko Igrec, the only organ duo in Croatia – Quattro Obbligato, and Klapa Luka Ploče.

To follow Mihael Majetić, visit his profiles on Spotify, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as his website.

To read more news about Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.