Yearly festivities in Slovakia - Chritsmas and Easter
Mgr.Janka Conortová, Jarmila Janicsová, UTA of Comenius University Bratislava
Slovakia is a country of 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 we find different dialects, folk architecture, dress, daily and holiday customs. They are accompanied by a system of different ceremonies, which are linked to the social relations, mythical and religious ideas.
Their character is distinct from ordinary life since time immemorial. Various ceremonial clothing, banquet, special ritual meals and other standards are conducted by hosts during the ceremonies. Customs in Slovakia relate to life events in addition to the specific days of the calendar and are regularly repeated yearly. The year is divided into the spring and summer growing season and winter time, which is not a growing season.
For the religious holidays, Christmas and New Year’s Day people prepared themsleves by repaying their debts, and returning the borrowed seeds and tools. Before Christmas, nothing was borrowed anymore, the big house-cleaning took place, and the dishes, walls and outbuildings were cleaned too. The men prepared the cattle feed and firewood for the whole holidays. The women prepared the food for supper, baked bread, cakes and waffles (Oblatky). The most widely used meatless meal on Christmas Eve were roasted cakes called „opekance – pupáčky“. On Christmas Eve we fasted until the first Christmas star appeared in the sky. Bethlehem games were played, the wishing men (vinšovníci) and caroler (koledníci) went from door to door. The goal of the regional magical customs were the provisions of family and farmyard, the wishes of crop richness and protection of agriculture.
The most significant festival of spring is dedicated to Easter - the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is characterized by green reeds, flowering willow, catkins, and painted eggs as a symbol of renewal and continuity of life. One of the magical Easter customs includes, for example washing in the stream, the use of rattles, flagellation with twigs, which maintains the strength and health and should scare away the evil forces. On Easter Sunday we dined like on Christmas Eve. The housewife had everything prepared in advance so that during the dinner she did not have to get up from the table. The bread was laid on the table and could not be removed during that day. The tradition of Easter eggs called „Kraslice“ has remained in Slovakia, to this day. They differ only in the use of different techniques of decoration. On Palm Sunday the priest consecrated by the prayers, the incense and holy water, the catkins, which should protect the house against lightning.
The holidays are important to people's lives. They strengthen relationships within the family circle and in the community. The folk culture is not only a subject of admiration, but it personifies the material and spiritual values in Slovakia. Today we have to maintain the cultural traditions for the next generations.
More on the topic of the annual festivals in Slovakia, see:
Foto: Botíková,Jakubíková,Švecová: Tradície slovenskej rodiny