Croatian Boasts 1.2 Million Christmas Lights Display

Zlatko Salaj, a 67-year-old Croatian, has created a ‘Christmas Story’ for himself. Not a story to tell, but one to show the world. His Christmas Story is actually his home, which he decks up in lights and colors every year around the holidays.

The former telecommunications engineer owns a country estate in Grabovinca, located in central Croatia. The entire estate is decorated at this time of year. Thousands of visitors come by to view the spectacle created by Salaj and his family. When he started this practice in 2002, Salaj had a modest 70,000 light bulbs that were put up on all the shrubs and trees across his 17-acre estate. When people asked him how many he would put up the next year, his reply was a 100,000. In this way, the lights and decorations kept growing in number. This year, the number has upped to 1.2 million Christmas lights. Not just ordinary ones, he has lights shaped like Santa Claus and reindeer. The festive spirit of his decorations is contagious and attracts children and adults alike from all over the region.

Photo © Marko Miščević / Cropix

Salaj says that he was not always able to afford such extravagances. In fact, when he was a child, his family was poor. The mill owned by his father was destroyed in World War II. When he was four years old, his mother left and his family consisted of only his father and himself. As a grown up, he spent many years working abroad, in the Middle East and Africa. When he returned home, he felt the need for such a project and began to work on the ‘Christmas Story” Every year, Salaj and his family lay out 5km of electricity cables  underground and around 180km of wires are arranged on shrubs and trees. Preparing for the event starts three months prior to Christmas, and it takes them an equal amount of time to dismantle everything.

Photo © Marko Miščević / Cropix

Salaj’s Chirstmas Story costs him exorbitant amounts, not just in terms of decorations, but the electricity bill, as well. Last year, he payed around 70,000 kuna (that’s $12,500)for electricity. So, in order to cover some of the costs, he’s started charging visitors a small entrance fee. For now, he’s very happy with the tradition he’s started and has no plans of stopping any time soon.