Easter is usually about a quiet, warm family gathering over a table full of home prepared food, about colouring and decorating the eggs etc. In Slovakia Easter is one of the biggest and most important holidays celebrated for 5 days in a row – from Thursday until Monday. Every day has its name and importance: Holly Thursday (Green Thursday); Good Friday (Big Friday); Holy Saturday (White Saturday); Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. Prior to Easter there is a 40 days of fasting – in the past people were avoiding the meat, but today the fasting is about not consuming something that you really like – chocolate, alcohol, cigarettes, or even a favourite PC game or watching TV…
Slovak Easter customs are something special…. they include guys pouring a bucket of cold water on girls and getting money or chocolate in return.
5-days Easter celebration
Easter in Slovakia is, like elsewhere connected with a specific Easter menu, habits and superstition. The preparation for Easter day starts on Green Thursday. Women – the young and the old – are usually preparing the typical Easter dishes and goodies. The secret recipes are passed from generation to generation, and each time something new is added.
The foods most typical for the Easter are Paska bread, egg cheese – Hrudka, smoked pork ham (of lamb), bacon and sausages, hard boiled eggs and various pastries. Same dishes have different names based on the region. From green Thursday until the white Saturday the dishes are prepared, and when Saturday comes, a sample of every prepared dish is taken to the church in a wooden basket, for a blessing. Blessing of the Easter Food Baskets on Holy Saturday or Easter morning is a tradition among Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian Central and Eastern European nations. The blessed food from the basket can be eaten on Easter Monday for breakfast.
Besides the typical Easter food also Easter decorations, prepared by the Slovak women, are important. Symbols of Easter in Slovakia are lamb, small bunnies, little yellow chicks and painted empty egg shells called “kraslice” (sg. kraslica). Kraslice can be painted in different techniques – with melted eggs, with water colours, with special natural or bought egg colours. Baby animals are pagan symbols of spring and new life – end of night and beginning of day (end of winter and beginning of the spring). Two plants are connected with Easter decorations in Slovakia – “zlatý dážd” (golden rain) and “bahniatka”, on the branches of these bushes, people hang kraslice. And the tree associated with Easter is willow – men use the willow branches to make “korbáč“, which they use on Easter Monday to whimp single girls.
Splashing and whipping on Easter Monday
On Monday morning Slovak women and girls get splashed with cold water – which is called “Oblievacka” and whipped with korbač – called “sibacka” in order to stay healthy and beautiful for the whole next year. This tradition is more lively in the villages than in the cities. After the oblievacka and sibacka, women reward men with sweets, fruit, money, painted Easter eggs, or ribbon for their korbac. While it is not required to give Easter eggs to visiting males on Easter Monday, only a few men will leave the house without a drink or small refreshment.
In the rural and village areas of Slovakia this tradition is still practiced at it fullest. Girls get dragged out of their houses and splashed by a group of young men, sometimes they even come on horses and are dressed in traditional folk costumes. They come with rattles and braided whips decorated with colourful ribbons.
But in the cities the tradition is not being practiced any more. The water buckets have been replaced with perfumes or even with a water pistol. Kraslice are simply bought at the market or at the craft stores. And people only visit their closest family members, and not the whole village.
Easter in Bratislava
The Easter markets on Primaciálne Square are a place where folk crafts, creative workshops for children and adultstake place, large selection of Easter souvenirs and folk majolica products, and traditional Bratislava rolls, strudel, cheese specialities, potato flatbreads, wild game, Slovak wines and much more.
And when in Bratislava do not forget to choose your favourite activity– visit the ZOO, Bowling in the National Center, rafting on White Water, play the City Game, visit the UFO tower… Or consume a dose of culture and visit one of more of Bratislava’s museums and galleries or try some of the special tours.