THE TRADITIONAL St Stephan’s Ride was revived in Soblahov 25 years ago. The event, which involves a ride through the Trenčín Region village on horseback, has gained popularity in recent years.

“In the past, people bred a lot of horses here,” Soblahov Mayor Eva Ďuďáková told the TASR newswire. “It is said that there were 35 couples of draught horses in the municipality. Christmas was a time when there was no more outdoor work, and in order for the horses to have at least some motion, stable boys led them out, yoked them and rode them along the village,” she said, explaining the tradition’s roots. She added that after a long break, it was revived 25 years ago by Soblahov inhabitant Ondrej Mrázik and members of the local riding club.

St Stephen, considered Christianity’s first martyr, is commemorated on December 26. He is, among other things, the patron saint of horses.

The centre of the St Stephan’s Ride is the Soblahov Hostinec u Ondreja / Andrew’s Pub, where children’s folklore ensemble Melenčárik, male choir Škrupinka, helicon players featuring girls from Soblahov, and the folklore troupe Dolinečka, performed. In 2013, Christmas sauerkraut soup and a carriage ride were also part of the event.

In addition to the ride, Soblahov’s tradition-loving inhabitants also gather in church on December 23 donning folk costumes to decorate the church with a Christmas tree and a Nativity scene while singing carols and folk songs together.