Customs & Traditions

In the course of the year, we have many opportunities for celebrations. We celebrate
the birthday, name day, wedding, the christening of one of our relatives, graduation, and
many other events.

On this occasion, we toast to the honored person who receives some presents, e.g.,
flowers, a box of chocolate, a book, a watch, or a ring.

NEW YEAR

On 1st January, people worldwide celebrate New Year’s Day together with New Year’s
Eve on 31st December. There are huge crowds of cheerful people in the squares and
streets, loud music, a lot of champagne and food.  People go to parties and balls, watch
big fireworks, and welcome the upcoming new year. At midnight, people wish each
other a Happy New Year. People make New Year’s resolutions and promise to
change or improve their lives.

THREE KING’S DAY (EPIPHANY)

On 6th January, 12 days after Christmas, we commemorate Three King‘s Day.

VALENTINE‘S DAY

On 14th February, it is Valentine’s Day. It’s the day of all lovers and friends. We send
Valentine postcards or messages to each other, buy some sweets and chocolate in
the shape of a heart. The lovers write some short poems such as:
„I’ll be your sweetheart, and I’ll be your Valentine“ or “ Roses are red violets are blue, you
are my Valentine, I love you.”

SAINT PATRICK‘S DAY

St. Patrick’s Day is on 17th March. It is the most significant Irish holiday also spread
into the USA. This holiday is named after Saint Patrick – the Irish Patron who brought
Christianity to Ireland. People are dressed in green, drink Guinness, and have fun.
There are colorful parades in towns and cities in Ireland and the USA.

ALL FOOLS‘ DAY

On 1st April, it is All Fools‘ Day. On this day, people make some jokes and play a
trick on their friends.

EASTER

We celebrate Easter at the end of March or at the very beginning of April. It is the
biggest Christian holiday of the year, and it lasts several days. We start this holiday with:

  • Maundy Thursday = Holy Thursday it is followed by
  • Good Friday – we commemorate Jesus Crucifixion
  • Easter Sunday – we commemorate Jesus Resurrection
  • Easter Monday – this day is very special in Slovakia

On that day, boys chase the girls, pour cold water on them, and whip them
with willow whips. It is said that girls will be healthy and strong all year-round.

Easter symbols are symbols of new life: a lamb, yellow chicken, Easter eggs, catkins,
Easter bunnies
.

On the table, we can see various kinds of smoked cheese, ham, and potato salad.

MOTHER‘S DAY

Mother’s Day is celebrated on the 2nd Sunday in May.

On this day, all mothers are honoured. It is a special day to say, ‘I love you,
mom.’ We buy them a bunch of flowers, a bar of chocolate or a small present.

INDEPENDENCE DAY

Independence Day is on 4th July, celebrated in the USA.
On this day, all Americans commemorate the Declaration of Independence from 1776.
The declaration was adopted by thirteen American colonies that gained
independence from the British. It is a day of fireworks, parties, and people dress in
national colours, decorated with national flags.

HALLOWEEN

Halloween is on 31st October. People decorate their houses in the scariest ways with
spider webs, coffins, bats, witches, ghosts, candles, goblins, skeletons, and of course,
carved pumpkins.

Its origin goes back to the Celts, who believed that the spirits of the dead would come to
their houses and take over their bodies on that day. Therefore, they disguised themselves with animal heads and skins to cheat or confuse them.

Nowadays, children go from house to house, knocking on doors saying ‘Trick-or-treat.’
which means if you don´t give them a treat, they will play a trick on you.

People are dressed up in fancy dress costumes and go to parties to have fun.

ALL SAINTS‘ DAY

All Saints‘ Day is on 1st November, and All Souls’ Day is on 2nd November. This
holiday is more or less connected with going to cemeteries/ graveyards, decorating graves with beautiful flowers, people light candles and pray for their beloved people who rest in peace = RIP.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tleUXXx30kI&t

THANKSGIVING DAY

Thanksgiving Day is on the last Thursday in November. It is the oldest American
holiday. It was first celebrated in the 17th century after the first successful harvest, which
helped people to survive the winter. The settlers celebrated their harvest and thanked
God for his bounty. Now it is the day when whole families gather and enjoy themselves
and good food. There is a stuffed turkey on every table. 

SAINT NICHOLAS DAY

Saint Nicholas / Santa Claus Day is on 6th December. On this day, Saint Nicholas,
an Angel, and a Devil come to the children. Children have to sing a song, say a
poem, or pray. Good children get fruits and sweets, and naughty children get coal and
potatoes.

CHRISTMAS

Everyone looks forward to the most beautiful Christian holiday of the year, the holiday
of calm and peace. During this holiday, we celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus. It is the
time for our family and friends, the time of exchanging some gifts. 

Symbols of Christmas

  • Christmas tree, Christmas decorations, Christmas lights, wreath, Christmas carols, sparklers, special meals, Midnight Mass, candles, bells, Nativity scene, contributing to charities and benefit concerts.

In Slovakia, Christmas preparations are connected with cleaning households, baking
gingerbread and other pastries, decorating houses with lights, and visiting Christmas
markets. 

On 24th December – Christmas Eve, we put up a real or an artificial Christmas tree, sing
or listen to Christmas carols, and prepare Christmas Eve´s dinner. The Christmas menu
in Slovakia varies from region to region, but generally, it consists of: 
Christmas toast, wafers with honey, sauerkraut soup, fried carp and potato salad and
homemade cakes. When we finish dinner, we go to the Christmas tree and unwrap the
Christmas presents. At midnight we go to Midnight Mass at the nearest church. 

On 25 th December, it is Christmas Day.

On 26 th  December, Boxing day, on this day, relatives visit each other. In the past,
servants and salespeople got presents, usually money, from the gentry. These presents
became known as Christmas boxes (servants and salespeople carried boxes in the
streets to get tips).

Traditions that our family follows at Christmas

We decorate our Christmas tree in the morning on December 24th and listen to
Christmas carols. Before Christmas dinner, we pray together. At the very beginning of
dinner, we eat Christmas wafers with honey. Our typical Christmas dinner consists of
sauerkraut soup and fried carp with potato salad. When we finish dinner, our father rings
the bell to tell us that our presents are already under the Christmas tree. After that, we go
carolling to our relatives’ houses, and at midnight, we go to our local church for Midnight
Mass.

IMPORTANT FAMILY CELEBRATIONS AND MEETINGS

WEDDING

At a wedding, two people who are getting married are the bride and the groom. The
bride has the bridesmaids and the groom his best man. A few days before the wedding
ceremony, the husband-to-be gives a party for his male friends. It is called a stag party
/a stag night. The wife-to-be gives a party for her female friends, and it is called a hen
party/a hen night. A wedding ceremony is a formal act that can be religious – in a
church. It is a church wedding / white wedding with a priest. It can also be a civil
wedding – in the town hall at a registry office with the mayor. The engaged couple
exchanges their wedding rings and promise to live together in good and bad
times.  After the wedding, friends and relatives are invited to a wedding reception with a
layered wedding cake. Then the newlyweds go on a honeymoon.

FUNERAL

Sometimes families meet at a very sad occasion. When someone dies, the body is put
into a coffin. At the funeral, the body may be cremated or buried in a cemetery
/graveyard. The grave is marked with a gravestone. The widow or the widower together
with close relatives are mourning for their beloved who R.I.P.(Rest In Peace)

Christmas In Slovakia – volume 1

When Christmas comes to town…

Christmas in Slovakia – volume 2

A golden pig or a little piglet – one of the most frequent thoughts of the majority of the Slovaks on December 24.

Why is St. Valentine’s Day celebrated on February 14?

The Tale of St. Valentine

vocabulary

  1. New Year´s Eve – Silvester
  2. cheerful people – veselí ľudia
  3. upcoming – nastávajúci, prichádzajúci
  4. Christmas carols – vianočné koledy
  5. to commemorate – uctiť si pamiatku, pripomenúť si
  6. to disguise (disgais) – zamaskovať sa
  7. Epiphany – sviatok Troch kráľov
  8. gentry (džentri) – zámožná vrstva, panstvo
  9. Good Friday – Veľký piatok
  10. Holy Thursday/ Maundy Thursday – zelený štvrtok
  11. resolution – predsavzatie
  12. New Year´s resolution – novoročné predsavzatie
  13. to survive – prežiť
  14. trick or treat – Dajte nám odmenu lebo vám niečo vyvedieme. (detská koleda počas Halloweenu)
  15. wafers (weifrs) – oblátky
  16. harvest – úroda
  17. coffin – truhla
  18. witch – čarodejnica
  19. skeleton – kostra      
  20. bounty – štedrosť
  21. gather – zhromaždiť sa, stretnúť sa
  22. thank to – ďakovať
  23. devil – čert
  24. sparkles – prskavky
  25. wreath (rith) – veniec (vianočný, adventný…)
  26. Boxing Day – Sv. Štefan /2.sv.vianočný
  27. groom – ženích
  28. bridesmaids – družičky
  29. best man – družba
  30. bride – nevesta
  31. a stag party – lúčenie so slobodou (muž)
  32. a hen party – lúčenie so slobodou (žena)
  33. a priest – kňaz
  34. a mayor – starosta, primátor
  35. a town hall – obecný úrad, radnica
  36. a registry office – matrika
  37. a layered wedding cake – poschodová torta
Halloween 31 Customs & Traditions
  1. the newlyweds – mladomanželia
  2. honeymoon – svadobná cesta
  3. husband-to-be – nastávajúci
  4. wife-to-be – nastávajúca
  5. Christmas Eve – Štedrý večer
  6.  fireworks – ohňostroj
  7. to cheat – podvádzať
  8. Christmas market – vianočné trhy
  9. crucifixion (krasifikšn) – ukrižovanie
  10. Easter – Veľká noc
  11. fancy dress  – maškarný kostým
  12. gingerbread (džindžrbred) – medovník
  13. grave – hrob
  14. Holy Mass – svätá omša
  15. to resurrection (rezerkšn) – vstať z mŕtvych
  16. servant – sluha
  17. to take over – prevziať kontrolu
  18. to unwrap – rozbaliť niečo
  19. willow whip – korbáč z vŕby
  20. to play a trick on – robiť si žarty z…
  21. catkins – bahniatka
  22. bat – netopier
  23. goblin – škriatok
  24. curved pumpkin – vyrezávaná tekvica
  25. settlers – usadlíci, osídlenci
  26. stuffed turkey – plnený moriak
  27. angel – anjel
  28. naughty (noty) – neposlušný
  29. candle – sviečka
  30. sauerkraut soup (saurkraut) – kapustnica
  31. a widow – vdova
  32. a widower – vdovec
  33. to mourn (mórn) – smútiť
  34. R.I.P – Rest In Peace – odpočívaj v…
  35. a funeral – pohreb
  36. to bury – pochovať
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