Christmas is celebrated in different ways by people living in various parts of the world. Although Slovakia shares similarities with the Czech Republic, the Slovaks celebrate Christmas in a unique manner, the difference being in religion and region. Majority of the population are made of Roman Catholics and the rest are contingents of Greek, Byznatine Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Almost 1/3rd of the Slovaks have immigrated to other countries, but they still share a common bond with their ancestors. In terms of celebrations, Slovakia begins the festivities earlier than the rest of Europe. The Bratislava Christmas market is a popular annual event, which allows even visitors to celebrate Christmas. As per tradition, this festive season is celebrated with dance and music and carols are sung from door-to-door. Read through the next section for an idea on the original customs and traditions in Slovakia.
Slovakian Christmas Customs
Christmas On January 7th
Byznatine and Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar and hence celebrate Christmas Eve on January 6th and Christmas Day on the 7th of January.
Christmas celebrations in Slovakia are associated with the Pagan Feast of the Winter Solstice. It was believed, in ancient times, that this time period was magical. Rites and rituals were performed in order to protect the cattle and crops against demons and ensure good harvest, happiness and love in life.
In Slovakia, Christmas celebrations start with Advent. As most of the Slovaks are Roman Catholics, Advent marks the beginning of spiritual celebrations. The house is prepared for Christmas by cleaning, decorating and shopping.
Christmas Eve is the most festive day for Slovaks and it is referred to as 'Stedry Den' (Generous Day). On the morning of the Eve, most families decorate the Christmas tree with glass and coloured balls, wood and silver threads. Slovakians conduct a fast on Christmas Eve as directed by the Catholic Church. It is believed that any person who manages to fast the entire day will see a golden pig in the evening.
Gifts are delivered to the children via a person dressed as Baby Jesus. It is customary that all kids leave the room when the presents are brought in. Once this is ready, a bell is rung and children rush in to see their goodies kept under the Christmas tree.
Barring the fact that each region has a specific type of meal, the main Christmas supper usually includes a fish dish (Carp is popular) and 'kapustnica', a cabbage soup with sausage, meat, cream and dried mushrooms. Other ingredients may be dried plum and apple.
Cookies and desserts during Christmas are made of vanilla, poppy seeds and walnuts. Some families prepare 10 different types of sweetmeats and these are shared with visitors. After supper, the Slovaks visit neighbouring houses and exchange small gifts with each other.
Christmas and Boxing Day
Christmas and Boxing Day is a quiet event in Slovakia, where people attend the Holy Services in church and watch the enactment of the nativity scene.
Christmas In Swaziland
In Swaziland, people visit their relatives and other neighbouring families and share gifts with them. On Christmas Eve, midnight mass is followed by a delicious dinner. After this meal, children open their gifts and sing songs of Christmas.
Despite the differences in the dates and beliefs, the Slovaks and the people living in Swaziland celebrate Christmas with excitement, enthusiasm and solidarity.
Christmas in Slovakia is about celebrations and festivities! Read on to find out more about Slovakian Christmas customs and traditions in Swaziland.