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Christmas in Bratislava (& Nitra)

Enjoy the beauty of Slovakia during Christmas

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Streets & Lights

Postova Alley

Postova Alley

Postova Alley

Rybarska Gate

Sedlarska St.

Michalska St.

Venturska St.

President's Palace (AKA: McSchuster's ;-) )

Hviezdoslavovo Sq.

Wooden Bethlehems (Betlehems, Cribs)

Bratislava - Old Town Hall Sq.

Click to enlarge... MONUMENTAL BETHLEHEM

The work was raised during 2001 in Zahradna galleria (The Garden Gallery) AM in Plavecky Stvrtok on an enthusiasm of ten Slovak wood-carvers. The primary idea of the original Betlehem creation came from the master of wood-carving crafts - Alojz Machaj, owner of Zahradna galeria.
The authors coincided that the work will be touring so it will be damountable. The statues are carved of lime-tree and abele-tree and it's coloured. Integral parts of Betlehem is a signature tune and a illumination hereby.
CONSTRUCTION: team of wood-cutters led by Jozef Haramia
AUTHORS OF PARTICULAR WOOD-CARVINGS: Alojz Machaj, Jozef Barta, Andrej Irsa, Milan Micienka, Jan Palko, Stanislav Polek, Martin Barnas, Peter Srank, Miroslav Polak, Alexander Spachlak
COLOURING: Andrej Irsa, Lubka Kainova
MUSIC: Igor Bazlik

Nitra (South-Western Slovakia)

Slovak Christmas (and not only) specialities, fine food and drink at the Christmas Markets - Hlavne Sq.

Husacie lokše plnené kapustou s údeninou alebo ovocným džemom a posypané makom a cukrom (Goose Patties filled with a cabbage and smoked ham or filled with a jam powdered by poppy seed and sugar), makové a tvarohové múćniky/štrúdle/záviny (poppy & curdy scrolled cakes)

Langoše a zamiakové placky (Potato Patties)

Braed spread with butter, fat, onion, garlic...

Husacie lokše plnené pečienkou (Goose Patties filled with goose liver)
Zemiakové placky (Potato Patties)
Medové opekance s makom (Baked Honey Balls with poppy seed)

Braed spread with butter, fat, onion, garlic...

Klobása (sausage), cigánska pečienka (pork steak), kuracie prsia (chicken breast steak),...

Cucumbers and feferons in sweet-sour brine
most favorite to all kinds of steaks and saussages

Traditional cakes made of honey, poppy-seed, curd, nuts, marmalade,...

Slovak Christmas Cabbage Soup "Kapustnica" (with home made sausage, whipped cream and dry mushrooms) is cooked here...

Vianočné oplátky or oblátky (Christmas Waffles)

Home Made Honey

Traditional Slovak Medovina
(mead, medieval honey wine)

Burning of the redundand calories at Hviezdoslavovo Sq.

Tree decorations, trappings, hand crafted gifts for all of the family, odds and ends on the feast table...

Carving work of Master Carver Jan Ferianc

The author with his work...

Traditional Slovak carol-singers (koledníci/vinšovníci) in action

The most Beautiful Festival of the Year
A festival of peace, love and abundance, rich in tradition, and woven around with mystery. The Slovaks pagan ancestors celebrated the Winter Solstice, since the old sun departed then and a new one was born. Christianity added to this festival deeper meaning expressed by the biblical message of the love of God for all people of good will. Thus in Slovakia Christianity took over many pagan customs and gave them a humane New Testament message.
Christians celebrate Christmas as the day of the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem. Families prepared for it for weeks in advance. They cleaned the home, baked cakes, made decorations for the tree. The period of preparation for Christmas is called Advent. Beautiful ancient customs were served, especially on the feast of St. Nicholas (December 6th) and St. Lucy (December 13th). Originally, when there was little space in cottages, the Christmas tree was hung from a wooden beam, and they decorated it with little apples, nuts and straw figures. Under the tree was placed the crib (Betlehem in Slovak), the scene of the birth of Jesus, made from corn husks or carved wood, which brought the mystery of the birth of Jesus into the home. On Christmas Eve, the family had dinner after fasting all day. Most dinner tables enjoyed:
  • a lighted candle - its light helping the Wise Men to find their way to the crib
  • wafers - symbolizing the communion of all Christians
  • honey, nuts, little apples - gifts of nature securing health
  • garlic and onion - protection of every evil
  • fish scales - supposed to bring the family money and happiness
  • a piece of bread and glass of water - everyday necessities of life.

The little apples had a symbolic character. After dinner the father cut one up. If it was good, a peaceful year awaited the family. Everyone took a piece of the apple, so that in the following year they would always find a safe way home.
The Christmas Eve dinner was bountiful. Its bounty was reflected in the number of foods. All the fruits or produce of the soil they had grown during the year were brought to the table in turn. They had lentil or cabbage soup, baked pasta balls, with poppy seed, cakes and other local foods. Later they included fish in the Christmas Eve dinner. Today this is the most frequent Christmas Eve food.

One of the most beautiful Christmas carols runs:
Christ the Lord is born today,
Let us rejoice.
From the rose a flower bloomed,
Let us be glad.
From a life immaculate,
From a royal family,
Christ the Lord
is born today.

Food would also be saved for carol-singers and people bringing their Christmas greetings. Peasants also took a little of each food and gave it to the domestic animals.
Christmas Eve was enlivened by people coming to sing carols and wish health and happiness.
In the festive atmosphere, the eyes of children shone in expectation of presents and the decorated tree. In time, mistletoe, which grows on the tops of trees, also became part of our decorations.

Here you can listen to a few Slovak Christmas Carols:
Music sample...   Music sample...   Music sample...   Music sample...   Music sample...   Music sample...
From the book:
The Heart of Europe
PERFEKT Bratislava &
Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers Inc. Wauconda IL

Bratislava by Summer

More about Bratislava:
Bratislava.skUltimate Guide to Bratislava
Bratislava - Stare Mesto
More about Slovakia:
The Slovak Spectator
Veselé Vianoce
a šťastný nový rok !

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Equipment used: Equipment used: Canon PowerShot A10