NICE DRIVEWAY! AN OCCASIONAL COLUMN ON LIFE IN SLOVAKIA

Once upon a time in the east

In which your correspondent is doused in holy water and discusses the economics of collective farming.

(Source: James Thomson)

This year I had two Christmases – not bad for a heathen.

The second one – celebrating Epiphany or ‘Three Kings’ for Roman Catholic Slovaks, the baptism of Jesus for Greek Catholics, and Christmas for Orthodox churches that observe the Julian calendar – was on January 6, in a Ruthenian village in eastern Slovakia.

This being Slovakia, a place where every feast arrives a day early, the main meal was actually on the 5th.

But we sat down to eat only after the local Greek Catholic priest had paid a house visit, with a female verger and two young choristers in tow. They belted out a couple of hymns in Old Church Slavonic, lustily accompanied by all the villagers within earshot.

The house was then blessed by liberal applications of holy water (I was dealt a bracing faceful), before the priest was farewelled with a shot of 52-percent-strength jablkovica (another tradition in which I was required to participate), the verger with a tenner for the church fund, and the choristers with a fistful of chocolate.

Aside from the unique customs and deep hospitality that I witnessed, and that reminded me of why I so enjoy living in this wonderful country, some things stood out.

The rest of this article is premium content at Spectator.sk
Subscribe now for full access

I already have subscription - Sign in

Subscription provides you with:
  • Immediate access to all locked articles (premium content) on Spectator.sk
  • Special weekly news summary + an audio recording with a weekly news summary to listen to at your convenience (received on a weekly basis directly to your e-mail)
  • PDF version of the latest issue of our newspaper, The Slovak Spectator, emailed directly to you
  • Access to all premium content on Sme.sk and Korzar.sk

Get daily Slovak news directly to your inbox

The processing of personal data is subject to our Privacy Policy and the Cookie Policy. Before submitting your e-mail address, please make sure to acquaint yourself with these documents.

Top stories

Second "secret poll" confirms observers' expectations

Slovakia's voters defied the ban on polls through a crowdfunding campaign.

The Slovak parliament approved the law on a 50-day moratorium on pre-election polls on November 26, 2019

Slovak far right courts youth vote in pivotal ballot

As Slovakia prepares to vote on Saturday, thousands of young voters are expected to opt for a far-right party that many would call neo-Nazi. What gives?

Extremism is a growing problem.

Parliament approves 13th pensions just days before the elections

The parliament failed to adopt two more proposals on February 26. The special session is over.

An extraordinary session is held on February 25, 2020.

Ethnic Hungarians should not be divided into good and bad

The identity of Slovakia's Hungarians cannot be based on how they feel about Orbán.

Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán (centre) and his Slovak counterpart Peter Pellegrini (centre-left) during their visit at the transit zone for migrants in Röszke on the Hungarian-Serbian border.