Have you ever visited Slovakia in winter? Never? Well, you should pack your suitcase with some warm clothes and set off! There are plenty of reasons why travel to Slovakia and one of them is the magic of beautiful mountains covered with glittery snow or delicious meals and Christmas cakes.
As most Slovaks belong to the Roman Catholic Church, many Christmas traditions are related to religious celebrations. The Christmas time starts on the first Advent Sunday, which is usually the first Sunday in December. (This year, the first Christmas Sunday was on November 29. It depends on the year.) People make an Advent wreath made of coniferous branches and some Christmas ornaments. The essential part of the wreath is four candles, which represent four Sundays before Jesus’s birth. Every Sunday, one candle is lit. In other words, Advent is a kind of preparation for the baby Jesus.
Not only the wreath beautifies our homes, but we also cover our houses with Christmas lights, and just before Christmas Eve, we put up a Christmas tree. We usually decorate our Christmas trees with Christmas baubles, stars, tinsels, little figures of an angel, a snowman, a Christmas stocking, a reindeer or a snowflake, and many other different ornaments, be it traditional ornaments or modern ones. In my family, there is a nativity scene under the tree too.
A few years back, when I was a kid, we used to buy chocolate candies called “salonky.” Salonky hung on the tree, and we were allowed to eat them, as my mum used to say: “after Christmas.” Yes, of course, we always ate them up all “before Christmas.” The truth was that the mum did not want the tree to be empty, with no decoration, since the sweets covered more than half of it.
Fortunately, I was as cunning as a fox, and each candy I ate on the sly was camouflaged in the way of the air wrapped in the glossy paper and remained hanging on its place. I was so proud of myself! However, my father also used to steal the candies (no one in our family knew it – he was quite good at it), and once when he felt like eating the candy from our tree, he came across an empty one. Thus, the truth was revealed.
Music, especially Slovak folk music, is also a part of the Slovak Christmas tradition. On December 24, carollers go carol-singing around the town. They wear traditional folk costumes and play musical instruments such as an accordion, a violin, and a flute. It doesn’t matter that it is cold outside. The temperature in winter can drop to – 25 degrees, but it doesn’t discourage people from going carol-singing and meeting beloved ones because it’s worth it.
Carol-singing in Turiec (Central Slovakia)
Source: youtube (FS Turiec)