Always Complaining – Croats and the Weather


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What’s the weather like in Croatia?

“Such terrible weather, isn’t it?” sounds like a typical English question. However, Croats are almost as occupied with the weather as the English, although in a bit different way. While I am writing this, Zagreb is covered with the first real snow (in Croatian: snijeg) of this winter. I like snow very much, but I know that I’ll be fed up with it and its accompanying low temperatures if they last for a week or more – just as most of us will be.

Hot, cold… We have it all

The climate in Croatia is generally characterized by its diversity. The summers are very hot in both the continental and coastal regions, while the winters are cold, usually with snow in the former and rain in the latter. The spring and fall tend to be mild, but the weather can range from warm and sunny to chilly and rainy. In addition, some continental areas such as Zagreb have in recent years had whole winters without a single snowflake, while the coastline was all snowy – already a few times in the last decade or two, which used to happen very, very rarely.

20) Vrijeme - Croatian Tragedies

By Croatian tragedies
Humourous Croatian ”tragedy” – the guy in the photo says ”It’s hot. It’s cold. It’s snowing. It’s raining.” We Croats just like to complain about the weather.

It turns out that the weather (in Croatian: vrijeme) in Croatia is as unpredictable as in England, although on a seasonal rather than a daily basis. As a result, it influences us in a similar way and plays just as important role in our everyday lives.

There’s nothing like a good rant

We like to complain about the weather, regardless of the season and conditions. We often get spring fatigue if it’s warm and sunny. On the other hand, if the spring is fresh and rainy, then we complain about the lack of warmth and sunshine – the very factors which would have made us exhausted.

A place at the sea.

Summer (in Croatian: ljeto) is reserved for sweating, refreshing oneself in all ways available, and whining about the heat. Although rain and/or colder weather are rare in the summer, our reaction is always the same: “Oh, finally some relief! That heat was really unbearable! My garden flowers won’t wilt after all!” However, if the rain and the colder temperatures last for more than a week or two, then we’ll start to be like “Is this sh*t a summer at all? I can’t even sip a coffee at the local promenade! Oh, sun, come back!”

Always Complaining – Croats and the Weather (3)

Rainy Dubrovnik by Tony Hisgett / CC BY 2.0

If fall is cold and rainy, we enjoy it at first, staying in our warm comfy room while watching a good movie or (more rarely) reading a good book, with a cup of hot coffee, cocoa or tea. However, an extended period of such weather will make us lament about how everything is dull and gray, as well as how high the heating bill will be (the utility bills are expensive and overpriced in Croatia). An Indian summer (we call it bablje ljeto, literally “a crone’s summer”) will make us happy at first (“Hooray! More summer! I’ll stay tanned for a bit longer!”), but after (I think you can already guess) a few weeks our common small-talk will be: “Bah, I can’t even have a nice cozy evening with a movie/book and a cup of a warm drink! And how could I eat roast chestnuts in the sunshine?”

20) Rijeka - Brotherside

National Theater in Rijeka by Boris and Sandro Erceg (@brotherside)

Like the other seasons (in Croatian: godišnja doba), the winter (in Croatian: zima) is also a double-edged sword to us. A cold and snowy one will first make us enjoy the winter idyll. Then it will make us whinge all the time about traffic jams, high heating bills and freezing ourselves. Or about the worst fate we can expect in the winter: that it’s our turn (and not somebody else’s) to clear snow in front of our apartment complex. In the cold we rewind our summer memories (omitting the scorching, sweating, not-in-the-mood-for-anything parts), just as we do with our winter memories in the summer heat, but deleting the freezing and snow-cleaning episodes. After the initial joy of a mild winter, we’ll, obviously, start complaining about the lack of whiteness, especially if Christmas is without snow, the second worst fate in the Croatian winter.

Always Complaining – Croats and the Weather (2)

Plitvice Lakes in Winter by Rom@nski / CC BY 2.0

A Secret Connection

Taking all these facts into consideration, complaining about the weather is just as important a part of Croatian culture as it is the English one. What is the reason for this? The Celts in the northern and eastern Croatia? The theory that the historical King Arthur was a Roman mercenary from Dalmatia? Or only the diversity and unpredictability of the weather in both countries? Whatever it might be, it’s definitely one of the similarities between the Croats and the English, which can help both adapt more easily to each other’s culture.

How do you like the weather in Croatia?

Featured image (on top): Lim Bay in Istria by Nick Savchenko / CC BY-SA 2.0


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