Christmas is just around the corner. The festive lights are on, the streets are bustling, and Christmas markets are popping up on our main city squares. There are as many unique Christmas traditions as there are Slavic countries, but gift giving is a universal way to show care and affection during the holiday season.
The time has come to start buying gifts for family and friends. If you’d like to gift your loved ones something Slav-inspired, we’ve got you covered! Whether you’re buying gifts for Slavs or friends and family interested in Slavic cultures, there’s something for everyone on the list below:
1. Christmas Ornaments
Gift someone new ornaments for their tree this year. Whether they’re a traditional decorator or an eclectic explorer, browse around for handcrafted Slavic Christmas ornaments. Try to find handmade wooden ones or mouth-blown, hand-painted glass ornaments. Bonus points for traditional Slav drawings or patterns on the ornaments.
2. Homemade Christmas Cookies
From Bulgarian jam-filled cookies known as maslenki, Croatian honeybread cookies called licitars, Lithuanian grybai which are mushroom-shaped spice cookies, Russian pryaniki, Slovak srdiečka, to Ukrainian medianyky, options for Slavic Christmas cookies are endless. No guest is welcomed into a Slav home without a toast to one’s health (whether with vodka or mulled wine or fruit cordials) and, at the very least, tea or coffee with sweets.
Honey bread and gingerbreads are the overwhelming favorites across the Slavic countries. Get your loved ones a box of traditional Slavic Christmas cookies of your choice! Who doesn’t like sweets during Christmas?
3. Traditional Liquors
Let’s face it… Most Slavs love their alcohol. For that friend or a family member who enjoys a good drink, a bottle of a traditional liquor is an excellent gift choice. Czech Becherovka, vodka (debate is still on whether vodka is Polish or Russian), rakija/rakia (Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia), Polish ikier jajeczny, Ukrainian Peperivka, Palinka (Hungary, Romania, Czech Republic and Slovakia)…There are more Slavic beers, wines, and spirits than anyone can want. Put a bow on a bottle and call it a gift!
4. Slavic Hand Embroidery
For that someone who enjoys culture, history, or homeware, Slavic hand embroidery items are the ideal gift. Hand embroidery, hand stitching, and crocheting have been used for centuries across Slavic countries to make clothes, decor, and items for special occasions (e.g. weddings or funerals). Table runners, cloths and hand towels with traditional motives are great Christmas gifts!
5. Knitted Scarf and Gloves
Many Slavs grew up with their mums or grandmothers knitting sweaters, hats, scarves, and gloves for them. Unfortunately, the craft seems to be slowly dying out, with less and less young people being interested in learning the skill.
Help keep it alive by gifting hand knitted scarf and gloves to a loved one. Bonus points if the items are knitted in the Eastern European knitting style. And we all know how cold Slavic winters are… everyone needs a warm set of gloves, a hat, and a scarf! Happy Holidays!