The Licitar is a traditional Croatian gingerbread heart that has been made and given to loved ones for more than 400 years throughout the country. A symbol of true affection, this little decorative item is often found hanging in windows, on Christmas trees or in other areas of Croatian homes. You can find them throughout the country made from various materials, but only gingerbread marks a true and authentic Licitar.
In the small and absolutely charming town of Samobor, located roughly 40 minutes to the West of Zagreb near the Slovenian border, sits a family shop called Arko. Arko is owned and operated by Bridget Mihin, who inherited the business from her parents. I met with Bridget to see, firsthand, how these beautiful little treasures are made. A lively, warm and inviting person – Bridget showed me the process involved in creating her special Licitar, as well as her famed honey cakes which are known for their unique taste throughout Croatia. She wouldn’t share the recipe, as it’s top secret, and is the reason her cakes stand out amongst her competition.
What I personally love about the idea of a Licitar as well as Bridget’s Arko, is the artful simplicity on which it’s all based. A decorated heart to be given to those you love – a clear and honest gesture. And, Bridget herself, a woman who is clearly in love with her work and finds passion in bringing a smile to all those who receive one of her beautiful hearts. You can visit Bridget in Samobor, or purchase a Licitar in Zagreb’s Advent market, or in other markets throughout Croatia.