Slovak traditions at Christmas

Christmas in Slovakia isn't too different from what most Europeans and North Americans are used to - even Saint Nicholas, or Svaty Mikulas, as he is called here, appears in his traditional red suit. However, the Slovak Santa Claus does not arrive the night before Christmas, but on December 6; accompanied by an angel and a devil, who ask the children if they have been good or bad. Children, of course, say they have been good, and are rewarded with candy or cookies by the angel. Cooking for Christmas dinner begins about two weeks later. Traditionally, the big feast day is saved for Christmas day. Christmas eve is a meatless meal, and many families fast during daylight hours. Children may be coaxed into fasting with promises of visions of "the golden pig," (zlaté prsátko), which turns out to be the flickerings of candle flames.


Ye jultide carol!

Christmas in Slovakia isn't too different from what most Europeans and North Americans are used to - even Saint Nicholas, or Svaty Mikulas, as he is called here, appears in his traditional red suit.

However, the Slovak Santa Claus does not arrive the night before Christmas, but on December 6; accompanied by an angel and a devil, who ask the children if they have been good or bad. Children, of course, say they have been good, and are rewarded with candy or cookies by the angel.

Cooking for Christmas dinner begins about two weeks later. Traditionally, the big feast day is saved for Christmas day. Christmas eve is a meatless meal, and many families fast during daylight hours. Children may be coaxed into fasting with promises of visions of "the golden pig," (zlaté prsátko), which turns out to be the flickerings of candle flames. Christmas eve dinner is probably more fun for the kids, with a carp - the traditional main dish, which must be bought alive and kept alive until cooking - stashed in the bathtub.

The carp is served in a sweet black sauce, along with fried fish and fish soup. In many homes, a bell rings to announe the arrival of "baby Jesus," who places gifts under the Christmas tree. After dinner, the family gathers around the tree to openpresents and sing carols until Midnight Mass begins. Christmas dinner is the big feast, with roast goose with dmplings and sauerhraut or a roast suckling pig, as well as a braided sweet bread called Vianočka.

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