Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Eastern Europe. Slovakia is bordered by Poland to the north, Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south.
Bratislava is the largest and the capital city of Slovakia while Košice is the second largest city.
The official language is Slovak, a member of the Slavic language family.
Christmas Celebrations in Slovakia :
Slovaks around the world celebrate Christmas in their own special way, the difference only varying by religion, region or country. With over 1/3 of all Slovaks living outside of Slovak Republic, some of the traditions have taken on the face of their adopted country but they all still share in the common bond of their ancestors living in what today is called Slovakia. Many Slovaks are Roman Catholics so this is the start of the important spiritual preparations for Christmas.
Ancient Slovak forefathers ascribed magic powers to this special time of the year. They believed that the rites would serve to protect the crops and cattle from harmful demons, to ensure a good harvest, to bring happiness in love and in family life in the year to come. The rise of Christianity in Europe subordinated this feast to the church calendar of Christ being born on December 25, but some of the other Christmas customs were nevertheless taken over from pagan traditions and myths, and even determine the course and character of these celebrations of the eternal victory of life over death to this very day.
In Slokvia, Christmas celebrations begin with Advent. Slovaks also celebrate St. Nicholas’ day on the 6th December. In Slovakia he is known as sv. Mikulas. He comes in the evening of the 5th December and gives presents to good children. Young children place their shoes near the door so sv. Mikulas can fill them with sweets and fruit. If you have been bad, you might be visited by the ‘Huba’ (a wicked little creature no bigger than an ant) who puts coal in your shoes.
Christmas Eve is the most important day during Christmas for Slovaks. It is called ‘Stedry den’ (the Generous Day). The actual evening is called ‘Stedry vecer’ (the Generous Evening) and the Christmas season is called ‘Vianoce’. On Christmas Eve morning the carp is killed and gutted (or some other kind of fish is taken out of the freezer!). During the day the supper is cooked. It used to be the custom to fast (not to eat anything) all through Christmas Eve. It was said that if you manage to get by without food for the whole day, you will see a little golden pig in the evening (after the Midnight Mass service)!
Slovak Christmas Trees are decorated with coloured lights, fruits, hand-made decorations made of wood, baked goods made with honey in the form of Angels and other religious symbols and sweets. Christmas Trees are kept until January 6th, Feast of the Three Kings (Epiphany. Then the children are allowed to finally eat the candies and other sweets from the tree.
The main Christmas meal is known as the ‘velija’ and consists of 12 dishes (the number of dishes symbolizes the number of Jesus’s disciples). The table is prepared with a white table cloth with straw and sheaves of wheat at each end. Christmas dinner begins with Oplatky small bread wafers and a blessing. The main Christmas supper varies between regions and families. It normally has lots of courses including a fish dish and ‘Kapustnica’. Kapustnica is a thick cabbage soup with sausage, meat, dried mushrooms and cream. Every family has its own recipe. Some recipes include ingredients that might seem unusual such as dried plums and apples. Carp is often the fish that is eaten. Some people buy it live and keep it in their bath until it’s time to kill it and cook it. And if you want a bath or shower, you have to take it out of the bath and put it in a bucket!
Other dishes might include a baked ham or a roost goose, ‘bobalky’ small pieces of bread mixed with butter and sauerkrat or sweetended with honey and poppyseeds, potato salad, pirohy dumplings, vegetables and plenty of walnut rolls or cookies. Cookies are a popular dessert and treat at Christmas. Some favorites include vanilla ones made with poppy seeds and walnuts and apricot cookies. Sometimes people will make more than 10 different types of cookies. These are given to visitors over Christmas. There are also special thin waffles that are eaten with honey.
In Slovakian Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Vesele Vianoce’.
Wishing all readers Merry Christmas 2019 & Happy New Year 2020 !!!