The Mood of Christmas in the Bratislava Region

Michal Roman

The Christmas time means for majority of us something special, regardless if spent with own family or enjoying the atmosphere of Christmas markets, drinking mulled wine, meeting old friends, and buying small presents for relatives. The region around the capital Bratislava, as each region, has its own special meals bound on this time of a year and its long lasting traditions of Christmas markets, reminding the Advent. This article brings you information on Christmas events in the whole region and for those of you who prefer warmth and love of own family an overview on customs of our ancestors, highlighting importance of Christmas.

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Typical Atmosphere of the Christmas Eve

The menu alla Bratislava has always minimum 6 and maximum 12 courses. The first one is generally a Christmas wafer, served with honey, garlic or without any accompaniment. The wafers are in some parts of the region followed by fruits or nuts. Broad selection is also among the Christmas soups: paradoxically, the traditional Slovak sour cabbage soup with dried plums, meat, mushrooms or cream is in the Bratislava region rather an exception than a rule. The town Modra is known by a lentil soup with sour cream and by a Christmas soup with specially shaped pasta, called “frkancule”. The dough on the frkancule has to be firstly cut to small rhombuses and subsequently rolled around a wooden skewer. In Bratislava is commonly served a Christmas fish soup and in the town Senec a cabbage soup mixed with beans, peas, lenses, mushrooms, and dried plums. Today's most favourite Christmas meal, the carp with the mayonnaise salad, appeared on our menu some 60 years ago. The mayonnaise salad is not the only possibility how to serve a carp in in this part of Slovakia. There are several variations, including for example a potato-onion salad or  - as common in Bratislava – roasted potatoes. The order of courses depends on a particular locality, as well. Regarding the pastry, in the region Zahorie is inherent part of the Christmas Eve a sweet bread called “caunt”, the Small Carpathian region prefers small yeast pastry, the “pupaky”. These are served with poppy seeds and sugar. In several other part of the Bratislava region is eaten a cake with nuts and poppy seeds, the “bejgli” or a three-layer cake, the so called “stedrak” (in Slovak “Stedry vecer” - the Christmas Eve), containing cream cheese, poppy seeds, and nuts. All the ingredients used for the Christmas Eve meal preparation were exclusively home-grown products, transformed to a generous menu.

A common Christmas Eve custom in Bratislava is to put a carp scale under the tablecloth or some money, as well, guaranteeing abundance of material wealth during the whole following year. The same desire symbolizes also a purse put on the table during the Christmas Eve meal or a slice of bread with pressed coins and put down under the table. The last course on the menu is an apple cut to pieces, according to the number of family members sitting at the table. If the apple core is fresh, it indicates health for each of them during the whole following year.

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Local Traditions in the Past and in the Present

The time preceding the Christmas has been for centuries associated not only with gastronomy, but also with customs, reaching back to the pagan time of the old Slavs. Some procedures of the Advent time in the region Zahorie were influenced by the Witch Days, lasting from November 25 till December 21. According to old legends, in this period of a year the dark power of witches increased dramatically. A target of a witch could be the cattle, as well. In the evening preceding the St. Lucy's Day, a farmer used to fold a bit of garlic into the fodder for his cattle to shield it from a witch's curse and from evil spirits. The St. Lucy's Day was also perfect time for predicting future. This tradition was in the past very common and people attached to the future prediction great importance. On the St. Lucy's Day (in Slovakia celebrated on December 13), each young girl had to collect 12 small sheets of paper and on each of them to write a name of a young man from her vicinity. In following days were the paper sheets burned, one after another. The one left on the Christmas Eve then revealed her the name of her husband. Another custom, common in the Western part of Slovakia, was scooping up flowing water at dawn. Magic words said during the procedure should bring to a young girl a young man, she has been longing for. 

All the customs interconnected with the Christmas time declined throughout following decades steadily and till present only a handful of them have been preserved. The most palpable one is the tradition of the Peace Light of Bethlehem. The last candle on the Advent wreath, lightened from this light, points at the light as the most significant symbol of Christmas. 

Enjoy the Christmas time in the Bratislava region, have a taste of local atmosphere, mulled wine, mulled mead, and fragrant meals offered in the stands! Merry Christmas 2015 in Bratislava!

Image titleChristmas Markets in the Bratislava Region

November 20 – December 22: Christmas Markets, Bratislava, the Old Town

November 28 – November 29:  Christmas Markets in the hotel Zatoka, the town Senec

November 29 – December  20: The Ruzinov Winter. Location: Ruzinov, the district Bratislava II

December  1 – December 18: Christmas Markets in the Old Town, the Mytna Street

December  3: The St. Nicholas Day in Ruzinov. Location: Ruzinov, the district Bratislava II

December  3 – December 5: The Christmas Street 2015. Location: Devinska Nova Ves, district Bratislava IV

December 4 – December 6: The Christmas Inspirations. Location: the town Modra

December 5: The St. Nicholas Day in the Red Stone Castle (hrad Cerveny kamen)

December 5: The Ompital Fair. Location: Dolany, the district of Pezinok

December 5: The St. Nicholas Day in the Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava, the Old Town

December 5: The St. Nicholas' Sunday in Bibiana, the International House of Art for Children. Location: Bratislava, the Old Town

December 5: The Christmas Markets, the exposition of Christmas trees and Advent calendars. The contest for the best Christmas sour cabbage soup. Location: Solosnica, the district of Malacky December 5: The St. Nicholas Market. Location: the town Stupava

December 5 – December 20: The Christmas Markets in Petrzalka, the district Bratislava V

December 11: Christmas with the folklore ensemble Karpaty. Location: Ruzinov, the district Bratislava II

December 11 – December 12: Traditional Christmas Markets in Dunajska Luzna. Location: Dunajska Luzna, the district of Senec  

December 12: The Advent in Velke Levare. The contest for the best Christmas cake. Location: Velke Levare, the district of Malacky

December 12: The Christmas Markets in Velky Biel. Location: Velky Biel, the district of Senec

December 12: The Christmas Markets in Prievoz. Location: Ruzinov, the district Bratislava II

December 12 – December 13: The Small Christmas Market in the Location Horsky Park. Location: Horsky park, Bratislava, the Old Town

December 13 – December 16: The Christmas Markets in Dubravka. Location: Dubravka, the district Bratislava IV

December 13: Christmas with Tales in the Bratislava Castle. Location: Bratislava, the Old Town

December 17 – December 20: The Advent and Christmas Markets in the town Malacky

December 18 – December 20: The Christmas Markets in Ruzinov. Location: Ruzinov, the district Bratislava II

December 19: The Christmas Markets in Zavod. Location: Zavod, the district of Malacky

December 19: The Market in the Old Market Hall 2015. Location: Bratislava, the Old Town


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