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Christmas traditions in Slovakia

The Christmas time has come. It's the time of peace, love and joy. Many of us can't imagine Christmas without typical Slovak customs and traditions that we very much look forward to.

 

We, Slovaks, can consider ourselves as one of the luckiest nations. Our Christmas traditions are very rich and we start celebrating Christmas four weeks before the actual Christmas Eve. This period is called Advent.

 

Advent

Advent starts with the first Advent Sunday and carries the message of expectancy of the arrival of the baby Jesus. During the Advent period we decorate our households, buy presents for our loved ones and visit churches. Our Christmas tree is decorated and one by one we light up 4 candles on Advent wreath. Each candle symbolizes one Advent Sunday. The Advent calendar is very popular with children, as every day until Christmas Eve they open a little window to get the little treat that's inside.

 

But how do we know which Sunday the Advent starts? This year, Christmas is on Tuesday. The last Sunday before Christmas Eve is also the last Advent Sunday. The first Advent Sunday was this year, symbolically, on the 1st of December.

 

Saint Nicholas Day (6th of December)

St. Nicholas Day is always connected to the 6th of December. Especially, children love this day as obedient children will get sweets in their boots. The boots have to be cleaned and placed in the window the evening before St. Nicholas Day. Nicholas will bring sweets during the night while they are sleeping. However, disobedient children might find their boots filled with coal.

 

St. Nicholas has a long white beard and wears a red coat. Together with an angel and a devil he gives away sweets. In schools, students write a St. Nicholas poem on the blackboard to be safe from bad grades and exams.

 

Saint Lucia's Day (13th of December)

On St. Lucia's Day, girls dressed up in white coats walk from house to house to chase away evil spirits with white feathers. Legends say that St. Lucia was a Christian woman who was forced to marry a pagan. He had fallen in love with her beautiful eyes, so she decided to burn them off and gave them to him. She was considered to be one of the witches as well.

 

A mystery tip for single ladies: Wondering who is going to be your future husband? Prepare 13 little papers with names of 12 boys, leave the last one empty. Take out one paper every day and burn it without reading it. Burn the one before the last one during Christmas morning. According to this prophecy the chosen one who remains on the last paper is going to be your future husband. If the last paper is empty, don't expect to marry in the following year.

 

Christmas Eve (24th of December)

We start to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, although the biggest Christmas holiday is actually the 1st Christmas Day (25th of December), which is considered to be the date of birth of Jesus Christ.

 

During Christmas Eve we are fasting. The fasting ends with the first star shining in the sky. We believe that if you are strict enough with your fasting, you can see a golden pig in the sky.

 

The Christmas dinner

Meals served on Christmas Eve may vary according to regions of Slovakia. In most cases you can find the traditional Christmas waffle with garlic and honey, various fruits and gingerbread, or typical Slovak pupáky and bobáľky on every Christmas table. A tasty cabbage soup and fried carp with traditional potato salad are served as the main course. In the south of Slovakia, a fish soup (halászle) is served, in Liptov area the traditional Christmas bread and in Spiš area it is mushroom “mačanka” or pirohy.

 

After finishing the main course, especially in our region of Banská Bystrica, we cut an apple in half. The shape of the core predicts the fate of the family. If the core is a star, the family will have a lucky year. Cross-shaped core predicts disease, a worm predicts disaster.

 

Who and when is bringing Christmas presents?

After Christmas dinner, the baby Jesus is bringing the presents. Children are looking forward to unpack them with the Christmas songs in the background. At midnight, the family visits Christmas mass to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

 

How do you celebrate Christmas in your country?

During the 1st and 2nd Christmas day, the family comes together and visits relatives and friends. Many people go for a well-deserved winter holiday.

 

In different regions of our country, Christmas traditions may slightly vary. How do you celebrate Christmas in your country? Let us know on our Facebook page in the comments below this article.

 

Our team wishes you a Merry Christmas spent among your loved ones and a lot of success in the upcoming year.

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