Zagreb: “Naive” Easter Eggs

Days are slowly becoming sunnier and shinier here in Zagreb. Spring is finally here to stay… We will surely have more rainy days, but at least it’s not so cold anymore. Nature is becoming more colorful and not only nature – the city of Zagreb as well…

jaja cestitka

Easter comes in a few days and the city center is decorated for the most important Christian holiday, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you’re passing by the main square in Zagreb or the square in front of the Zagreb cathedral, you really can’t miss the invasion of eggs, bunnies, chickens and other Easter decorations, although the complete atmosphere is not so commercialized as it is during Christmas festivities. One decoration in particular is quite interesting – large “naive” Easter eggs. Before I explain why they are “naive”, just a short story about the egg itself.


The egg is a symbol of rebirth and the beginning of new life in many folk traditions all around the world, not only those linked to Christians. For Christians in particular, the egg is a symbol of resurrection. Some link the cracking of Easter eggs with the empty tomb of Jesus. The custom of coloring Easter eggs started among the early Christians, in Mesopotamia, according to some sources. (You can check various origin stories of Easter egg in this Huffington Post’s article.) In Croatia, colored or painted boiled eggs are integral to the traditional Croatian Easter dinning table.

Now, when I say that Easter eggs in Zagreb are “naive”, I’m not talking about their “lack of wisdom”, I’m talking about a particular and beloved painting “concept” of the 20th century Croatian art. It’s very hard to define “naive art” in a sentence, but in general, I can say that this concept covers any form of painting or a sculpture (or another type of visual art) created by artists who lack professional education (they didn’t finish art schools). Their work has their own poetic style which can seem sometimes like a child’s painting, with strong use of vibrant colors and occasionally some strange geometry. In the beginning, most of the artists were actually peasants, working on their land and painting in their free time. We can see that from their most common motives – fields, villages, nature and winter (as the season when they had most of their free time). I’ve tried of course to describe everything in a short paragraph, but “naive art” covers so much more.

Rilak's Happy Easter

The most famous “naive school” in Croatia started in the 1930s in and around the little village of Hlebine, near Croatian and Hungarian border. Contemporary Hlebine school painted all the eggs that we can see today during the Easter holidays in Zagreb. Most famous artists of this school were Ivan Generalić (considered one of the first masters of the school), Josip Generalić, Ivan Lacković-Croata, Mirko Virius and many more. Hlebine School became famous all around the world in 1952, during Biennale Modern Art Exhibition in Venice. In the same year, the Museum of Naive Art in Zagreb was founded as the first naive art museum in the world. The museum is located in the Upper Town and is certainly a museum that I can really recommend. During my city tours, I’ve had guests who are not so interested in arts in general but on a couple of occasions, we ended up in this museum and they loved it. It’s very unique, colorful, a little bit different and related to our country. You can check the museum’s page here!

In addition, if you want to see more eggs, you can check photos from the exhibition organized in Koprivnica, the center of Koprivnica-Križevci county, where the village of Hlebine is located. Or simply visit Koprivnica! Check the article of the county’s tourist board in Croatian, scroll down for photos!

IMG_20180327_175542646 STIL.jpg

As I’m coming towards the end of this week’s post, all that is left for me to do is to wish happy Easter holidays to all my readers who are celebrating it. Hope to see you in Zagreb soon!

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