Slovakia like the rest of the world values Christmas day a lot, and thus they celebrate the birth of Jesus with memorable ceremonies.
They begin their celebration with Advent, since the majority of the religious believers are Catholics.
Therefore, they ensure to incorporate spiritual preparations and other Christian celebrations during the time of Christmas.
Apart from the celebration of the birth of Jesus, which occurs 24th of December, Slovakia also commemorates the feast of St. Nicholas, which happens on the 6th of January. This celebration is referred to as Svaty` Milula’s`.
It is the event where the kids get gifted with sweets and other presents while asleep.
Traditionally, the kids leave their shoes at the doorstep, believing that St. Nicholas will fill them with sweets and fruits.
The Advent period
During this period, there are a lot of activities that go on in preparation for Christmas.
The residents clean their homes and make different special food foods. Christmas trees, lights and any other Christmas related décor are bought too.
Their favorite Christmas delicacies such as carps get stocked on the markets.
Christmas celebration in Slovakia happens at different intervals from the time Jesus was born, and each range has its name.
For example, Christmas day is referred to as “generous day”, the evening is referred to as the “generous evening”, and the Christmas celebration is “Vianoce”. In Slovakia, they say merry Christmas as “Vesele Vianoce.”
The Christmas decorations
The Slovaks take time when decorating their Christmas trees considering they use unique décor pieces.
The people customize the Christmas decors to use on the trees using different materials.
They use colored lights, fruits, and handmade wood decors.
They bake goods with honey in the form of Angels, and other Christmas related religious symbols, whereby they stick them on the house and the trees.
All the decors used in the house symbolize the birth of Jesus, the people, and activities involved during this time.
The decorations stay until the 6th of January when they celebrate the Feast of the Three Kings (Wise men).
On this day, the kids are allowed to eat the edible decors used on the Christmas tree which include the Christian symbols crafted with honey.
We all offer gifts during Christmas time which are kept under the Christmas tree untouched until the 26th of December referred to as Boxing Day.
It is a tradition where people believe that baby Jesus gifted them with the presents. Slovaks also practice this tradition, and the family gifts are reserved under the Christmas tree although their exercise is different.
In Slovakia, the kids have to be away when gifts are brought because they believe Jesus is the one who brings the presents.
Since it is a surprise, they should not see when “Jesus” brings them.
A bell is rung for kids to leave the room; hence, the presents are set under the Christmas tree.
Then the bell rings again for the kids to come and see their gifts.
In Slovakia, the Christmas gifts are opened a day after the Christmas celebrations which is on 26th December, or before they celebrate the Christmas meal on 25th December.
The Christmas day celebration
For years now, the people of Slovakia don’t celebrate Christmas by having meals during the day.
The Catholic Church advised against it because they believe whoever goes for the day without eating, he or she gets the opportunity to see a little golden pig after the midnight mass.
What happens on Christmas Eve?
The carp, one of their main delicacies, is killed and glutted. For people who do not have carp or do not like it, they substitute it with fish that has been stored in a freezer.
The preparation of the supper follows this.
The Christmas dinner in Slovakia
The Slovaks prepare a total of 12 different dishes for the main meal referred to as Velija. The 12 meals represent the 12 disciples of Jesus.
They set their meals on a table that has a spread of white table cloth, straws, and shelves of wheat cut at the edges of the table. The families start their dinner by sharing Oplatky a small bread wafer and blessings.
Note that the Slovaks do not prepare the same meal since every family has their preferred recipes.
Some of the significant delicacies they enjoy on Christmas evening include; thick cabbage soup prepared with sausages, meat, dried mushrooms, and cream.
Other menus include; baked ham, roast goose, small bread pieces made with butter and sweeteners. Potato salad, vegetables and fish dishes prepared in different methods.
The people do not eat just any fish other than carp or frozen fish. Some people opt they buy it while alive where it is kept in the bath until the date of the ceremony.
They enjoy various desserts with cookies being their favorite. The families opt to bake their cookies or buy from the market.
The cookies are made with different flavors which include; vanilla, poppy seed, apricot, and walnut cookies.
|Xmas Cookies in Slovakia|
Some people make cookies to give away as gifts to their guests. Other than cookies, the other desserts the Slovaks enjoy are the thin waffles dipped in honey. The sweets are shared after the main meals.
The supper celebration
Although enjoying the meal as a family is one of the valued activities during Christmas supper, the Slovaks people also visit each other and buy Christmas gifts.
As a custom, the people attend midnight mass, which is the most attended service all-round the year.
The people of Slovakia also celebrate their Christmas customs which include; cleaning their houses, decorating the streets with Christmas messages and lights.
The actual Christmas day and boxing day
These two days are calmer, and people take time to rest or visit friends and families.
There is also a church mass where people go to watch various clips of the time that Jesus was born.
The kids attend classes where they are taught about the birth of Christ and the wise men.
In Slovakian Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Veselé Vianoce’. It is interesting to know how people wish Happy or Merry Christmas in other languages.
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Main Points About Christmas in Slovakia
- Christmas eve is the most important day among the three days of Christmas – Christmas eve, Christmas day, and boxing day).
- In preparation for Christmas, there is a deep cleaning of the house and its surroundings, shopping and baking.
- There is a lot of Christmassy decorations during the season. Many Christmas trees go up in beautiful decorations and lights.
- On Christmas eve, Stedry vecer (the Generous Evening), for the Christmas meal (Velija) 12 dishes are made, symbolic of the 12 disciples of Jesus.
- Christmas dishes vary from family to family. The meals may include fish, cabbage, meat, mushrooms, cream, plums, apples, ham, goose, bread, honey poppyseed, potato, salads, vegetables, nuts, cookies, and dumplings.
Just like in the Netherlands, Slovakians celebrate St. Nicholas’ Day and just like in Scandinavia Christmas Eve is the most important day of Christmas. Children get presents from ”Baby Jesus” just like in Austria.
The typical main dish to have on Christmas Eve is fish, more specifically carp, which is killed and gutted in the morning.
Later in the evening, 12 dishes are served to symbolize Jesus’ 12 disciples. There’s also straw at the table.
Word Cloud for Christmas in Slovakia
The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Christmas in Slovakia. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.
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Chara Yadav holds MBA in Finance. Her goal is to simplify finance-related topics. She has worked in finance for about 25 years. She has held multiple finance and banking classes for business schools and communities. Read more at her bio page.