Christmas is celebrated in many countries in their own special way. The beginning of Christmas season is identified with the opening of Christmas markets in Slovakia. In Slovakia, Christmas Eve is considered to be the most important day of the Christmas season. As a part of the Christmas celebrations, Slovakians sing Christmas carols. On Christmas Eve, the Slovakians prepare a grand feast and their main dishes include the Christmas carp, potato salad, apple slices, wafers, 'sauerkraut soup' and 'radostnik'. The Slovakians have a number of superstitions, which they believe in devoutly. According to the Slovakians, 'Ježiško' or Baby Jesus, is believed to be the Christmas gift-bringer for little children. On 'St. Nicholas Day', 'Dedo Mraz' is the Slovakian Santa Claus, who visits children in Slovakia. The people also attend Masses at church during the festive season. Although, many ancient customs have disappeared over the years, some of them are still being followed today. Find out more about Christmas customs, traditions and celebrations in Slovakia.
Customs, Traditions & Celebrations
Christmas in Slovakia is commemorated on the 25th of December and is a magical time for all Slovakians. Christmas traditions in Slovakia are similar to the Czech Republic traditions. Most of the ancient Slovakian Christmas rituals have disappeared over time but are still followed in many places. Christmas celebrations begin with the Advent. The Advent marks the beginning of a spiritual season. The Slovaks celebrate 'St. Nicholas day' on the 6th of December, every year.
In Slovakia, the opening of the Christmas markets indicates the onset of Christmas. More than 100 stalls are opened during the Christmas season. During the period of the Advent, people in Slovakia buy gifts and all the necessary items for the Christmas feast and decorations. Pastries are baked many days before the Christmas Eve. In Slovakia, the Christmas season is known as, 'Vesele Vionoce'.
Ježiško, The Gift-Bringer
Slovakian children are told that 'Ježiško' also known as Baby Jesus, is the one who brings gifts on Christmas Eve and places them under the Christmas tree. The Santa Claus or 'St. Mikulas' of Slovakia is known by the name of 'Dedo Mraz' or 'Father Frost' and visits children on 'St. Nicholas Day' .
Christmas Eve is considered even more important than Christmas in Slovakia. On Christmas Eve, Slovakians decorate the Christmas tree with ornaments and enjoy the Christmas feast on this special day. Women light candles in the house once the evening stars appear in the sky. After dinner, the people gather around the Christmas tree to exchange and unpack gifts. The Slovakian family members sing Christmas carols all night and most people go from one house to another in order to wish everyone in the village. The families head to the church to attend the 'Midnight Mass' on Christmas Eve. The families then spend Christmas by indulging in merry making and relaxing in their homes.
Swedish Christmas Feast
The Slovakians chant prayers and then eat the 'radostnik', which is the popular Swedish Christmas cake. Among the many traditional Christmas dishes in Slovakia, the 'Christmas carp' is the most important dish and is served during the feast. On a Slovakian Christmas table, one can also find sliced apples, 'sauerkraut soup', potato salad and Christmas wafers known as 'oblátky'. Each region in Slovakia has their own culinary delicacies that are prepared on Christmas Eve.
Before the feast begins, wafers are broken and shared among the members. Each Slovakian family is supposed to offer a measure of flour to contribute to the baking of the oblátky for the whole village on December 13th. The oblátky is made by teachers and these are blessed by the priest before the children distribute them among the people in the village.
In every Slovakian family, one place is always reserved at the dinner table for a guest or traveler. No one is allowed to leave the dinner table before the supper is over; as it is believed that somebody may not be present or may perish the next year. They also surround the table and chairs with a chain, as a part of their traditions. According to Slovakian Christmas traditions, eating in the morning of Christmas Eve is forbidden. The Slovakians fast during the day and it is believed that young women who fast till dinner would get a husband sooner. Some fasting practices involve eating everything else except meat.
The people in Slovakia celebrate Christmas with great enthusiasm. Children in Slovakia believe that Ježiško will bring gifts to them during Christmas. Many ancient Slovakian culinary specialties are prepared on Christmas Eve. Slovakians follow several customs during Christmas and the festival is celebrated on a grand scale.
Christmas is a special time for all Slovakians. The Slovakians follow their ancient traditions and customs. Read this article to know more about the Christmas celebrations in Slovakia.