Traditions and culture of the people in Slovakia – Events in a human life
Mgr. Jana Conortova, Jarmila Janicsová, UTV CĎV Comenius University in Bratislava)
Slovakia is a country with a small size. It is characterized by a variety of terrain, climate, nature, from the plains to the mountains. This diversity influenced the social and cultural development of different regions, where you find different dialects, folk architecture, dress, daily and holiday customs. They are accompanied by a system of different ceremonies, which are linked with the social relations, mythical and religious ideas.
They characterise themselves since time immemorial by a distinct diferentiation from the ordinary life. They are distinguished by ceremonial clothing, banquet, special ritual meals and other standards that are conducted by hostes during the ceremonies. Customs in Slovakia relate to life events and to specific days of the calendar and are regularly repeated. The year is divided into the spring and summer growing season and winter time, which is not a growing season.
Important Days in the personal live of individuals are birth, baptism, marriage and death. Usualy in Slovakia the families had a lot of children. Thge birth of a new child was accompanied by complex operations. They should protect the newborn and the mother from the impact of negative forces. With prophecies people tried to seek and identify the characteristics of the newborn child. A woman in childbed was protected from interference of the running of the farm, for example, she could not leave the house, bake bread, milk the cows. She had a reserved space in a corner of the room, which was separate by a sheet „Kutno“, where foreigners could not have access. The child was admitted to the family by a celebration after the birth and by christening including to the village society.
The wedding was the most important event and celebration in the family. Preceded by courtship, engagement, marriage announcement and inviting the guests. The entire pocedure of the wedding was an agreement between two families. The agreement was confirmed by a handschake, exchange of gifts, and ceremonially handing over the bride. From it comes the term handover date, the adoption of the wife in the house and family of the husband. Families acted through their representatives, who managed the entire process and performed the wedding ceremonies. It was an honour for them. A distinctive feature of weddings was and is the demonstration of abundance: food, cakes, drinks, cheerfulness, music and dance. The culmination of the wedding was the removal of bridal wreath from the bride’s head of the bride and replacement by the cap or scarf, which was and still is exclusively executed by women.
Traditional ceremonies connected to death are motivated by fear of death and respect for the dead. They are accompanied by a belief of mysticism and the afterlife. The dying person was bedded on the ground on straw or canvas. Straw was a symbol for the sunset and the reconstitution of the vegetation. By dying, the power which was received in a ceremonial manner at birth or baptism was returend to the ground. Mourning the dead was solely the role of women, so called „plačiek“. They were hired and were often relatives. The ceremonial weeping recollected the achievements and characeristics of the deseased. The vigil for the dead during the night before the funeral and the reading prayers were part of the burial ceremonies. After the funeral there was the funeral fast, „kar“, also attended by the soul of the deseased. The duration of the mourning was ruled by the local habits. To this day, the 2nd November is dedicated to the remembrance of the deseased by visiting the grave and commemorative acts.