THE MOST important Christian holiday in Slovakia was always accompanied with a number of interesting popular traditions, especially in the countryside. Particularly distinctive were customs in the Horehronie region, many of which have been preserved to this day.
The holiday atmosphere of Horehronie can be felt in this postcard from 1928 which portrays children playing with a bagpiper in the village of Heľpa.
A typical Easter custom common to all Slovak regions is oblievačka, pouring water on girls and women. In Čierny Balog, for example, young men and boys used to meet on Easter Sunday at somebody’s house and amuse themselves by drinking spirits until the following morning.
Then, before sunrise, they set out to douse neighbouring girls and women. A few of them would seize the girl while the others poured fresh water on her, taken from a well or a creek. But they had to hurry, because the girls could not miss the Monday mass.
Today, oblievačka is often considered as somewhat cruel and humiliating for girls and women.
In the past, it was to the contrary. The more soaked a girl was, the happier she and her family were. In Slovak villages, it was actually a kind of compliment.
That is also why men used to be “rewarded” with spirits from the lord of the house and eggs from the lady of the house.