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  • Writer's pictureServus Zagreb

From Zagreb with Love ❤️🇭🇷

Many of travellers who visited Zagreb and surrounding region bring home not only a pleasant memories from Zagreb, as well as they bring many different souvenirs. In a multitude of souvenirs, there one interesting souvenir related to Croatian tradition and heritage. It is the Licitar heart – a shiny little red heart.

The tradition of making colourfully decorated honey biscuit in the shape of a heart (they can be goes back to the Middle Ages. At that time food crafts became very popular and this trend has spread throughout Europe, including Croatia where it got its authentic look. Licitar makers, known as Medičari, were highly regarded in society, and their Licitars very much sought after (licitars were more sentimental than giving a bouquet of roses). Even today the tradition is kept alive by a select few who covet the art in family secrecy, and their methods of production have scarcely changed.


The Licitar hearts became famous due to their being sold at the Marian shrine of Marija Bistrica (near Zagreb) to which pilgrims visited St Mary of Bistrica for the Assumption or St Margaret's Day. Although not a religious symbol, the Licitar hearts were often bought to take home as a reminder of their long and sometimes arduous journey to Zagorje.

The Licitar hearts are made using traditional ingredients, methods and devotion. Their ingredients are simple as such as honey, flour, eggs, water and natural colours but their preparation is long. The dough matures for a few days, then is shaped and baked and left for two weeks to dry. Colouring is the next step after which they are left to dry again for two weeks. Once dry the Licitar hearts are finally decorated and again left to dry for a week. Traditionally the Licitar hearts are 100% handmade, decorated with a swirling outline, small flowers and a small mirror.


It is interesting that the Licitar hearts are referred to as gingerbread, though they do not actually contain ginger.

Also, it is a custom to give the Licitar heart to show your affection and commitment to loved one. Usually, men gave Licitar heart to girls. According to some sources, a small mirror is placed on the Licitar heart with a purpose. In case a girl want to see in who is in love a young man who gave the Licitar heart, then she will see a reflection of girl’s face. Of course, it will be her face.

That’s why, in modern times, the Licitar hearts become traditional Croatian souvenir, as well it is used by locals in other purposes: as Christmas tree decorations (in shape of heart, cherry, doll, small bird, mushroom, horse-shoe, small wreath, horse etc), wedding favours for guests, business gifts, many other ornamental purposes, and is still given as a way of showing your affection to the ones you love.


If you take a walking tour in Zagreb or day-trip from Zagreb with Travel Agency Servus, be sure you will get your own Licitar heart ❤️🇭🇷 ❤️🇭🇷 ❤️🇭🇷 ❤️🇭🇷 ❤️🇭🇷 ❤️🇭🇷

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