In a year of grim tidings, Slovak migrant turns to the magic of childhood fairy tales

Bibiana Kerpcar was five years old when she moved to Brooklyn, but her love of Slovak fairy tales has kept her connected to her hometown, Stará Ľubovňa.

Bibiana KerpcarBibiana Kerpcar (Source: Courtesy of Bibiana Kerpcar)

During Christmastime in Slovakia, age-old traditions seem as commonplace as tinsel. The scent of piping hot Trdelník and mulled Medovina wafts through city squares, and local TV stations begin playing a constant reel of classic Czechoslovak fairy tales.

Read more:‘Jurko the Outlaw’: Slovakia’s first animated feature Read more 

For Bibiana Kerpcar, a Slovak residing in Brooklyn, New York, Christmas is when she feels closest to her childhood home of Stará Ľubovňa, where, as a small child, she would often sit down with her mother and grandmother and listen to them tell Slovak folk tales.

“[My family] really imbued a sense of magic and fantasy in me,” said Kerpcar, a Georgetown University graduate. “They always encouraged me to read and write, even at a very young age.”

She still remembers the tales of Ježibaba, Slovakia’s answer to Baba Yaga, a pestle-wielding, mortar-riding supernatural old woman often mentioned in Slavic folklore. And even in her Brooklyn neighbourhood, Kerpcar still celebrates Christmas with her family by watching Three Wishes for Cinderella (Tři oříšky pro Popelku) and The Princess with the Golden Star (Princezna se zlatou hvezdou), traditional Czechoslovak films that have become Christmas classics in Slovakia and serve as a continued source of inspiration for Kerpcar.

New beginning in Brooklyn

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