Updated: Jan 30
In Croatia (and Hungary), there is a tradition to plant Christmas Wheat. On December 13th, Roman Catholics celebrate the feast day of St. Lucia. Since most Croats are Catholic, this is the day that they will plant their Christmas Wheat. This involves planting a handful of wheat seeds in a bowl or plate and allowing it to grow until Christmas.
The wheat symbolizes 'the new bread' which Catholics link to the sacrament of the Eucharist. It is believed that the height of the wheat by Christmas is indicative of the success and luck the family will have in the new year. Some families use the wheat to decorate the table or under the tree. Once the season ends, the wheat is not thrown out, but given to the birds. Some families will plant their wheat on St. Barbara's Day (December 4), which allows even more time for the wheat (and thereby success!) to grow.
Wheat seeds (can be purchased online)
Taper Candle, optional
Half fill the bowl with soil; gently press a handful of wheat seeds into the soil. Water lightly. Keep in a moderately warm room until Christmas. Once it gets tall enough, tie a ribbon around it and place a taper candle in the middle. You now have a traditional Croatian Christmas centerpiece.
Use the Christmas Wheat as a centerpiece for your Christmas dinner table. After the holiday, don't forget to feed the wheat to the birds.