Hrvatska posta issued a set of two stamps celebrating Christmas 2013.
Christmas is a holiday closest to normal human life: it announces renewal and birth, a chance for a fresh start, a chance that light is switched on from every gloom and warmth is emanated from every chill. The date of Jesus' birth is fixed to the winter solstice as the heritage of pre-Christian times, which already in that ancient time were able to discern that luminous threshold of the year.
There are numerous signs that announce Christmas, symbols that mark it: from those cosmic – like the falling star, on the last year's stamp of the Republic of Croatia - to those entirely close and confidential. This year Croatian stamp has turned its view from cosmos to micro cosmos, from space into home. It is said that Christmas is a family holiday.
In the centre of this family holiday there is a Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve it is decorated in solidarity of generations and then, beneath it, more or less secretly, presents are arranged. An evergreen tree, fir tree, juniper tree or pine tree, already by itself symbolises the immortality of nature. However, this custom is not here since the beginning of time and has also got its history.
Its origins are somewhere in north Europe; one of the theses is that the Christmas tree was decorated for the first time in Latvia about 1500; it is mentioned that Luther decorated a Christmas tree in 1510.
Mediterranean Europe had the habit of putting Bambino – Christ Child into the house; Slavic tradition was to put a yule-log or oak twigs in homes...
However, the evergreen tree conquered the world and entered from outside spaces into our homes. At first the decorations on it were real fruits: apples (a Tree of Knowledge), nuts, hazel-nuts, natural and later gilded…
Then sweets were added (who does not remember those fondant-bonbons in paper with fringes or silk bonbons, greedily eaten before being hanged?). Fruits then became produced from glass, stylised into the best known form – balls, most probably in Germany. In modest houses natural fruits and home-made decorations most often made of paper, have persisted till today. Various folks have developed their specific forms of Christmas decorations: thus in our country one can see Christmas trees decorated with gingerbread (Croatian: licitar) pendants.
On the other hand glass decoration has developed in most unbelievable shapes and its golden age was the second half of the 19th century and a period about 1900. Since this kind of decoration is very fragile, die old fashioned balls (i.e. the most various kinds of glass shapes), although produced in millions of items, were also broken in millions of items, so that today they have become a rarity, the object of impassioned collecting and high prices. Glass decoration was produced in Croatia and in some small manufactures in Zagreb it is still being produced today.
In Croatia, luckily, a lot of traditional Christmas decoration remained preserved, fragile but convincing in bringing forward the arguments about its European Christmas standards. A little coach which this postage stamps sets off to travel the world, witnesses about the presence of those most valuable and most beautiful which we have always recognized in the world and knew how to bring into our own homes.