Christians in Slovakia still preserve traditional habits on Christmas Eve
BRATISLAVA, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- With the arrival of Christmas Eve, around 2 billion Christians around the world, includingSlovaks, have begun the Christmas celebrations on Thursday.
"Several Christian families in Slovakia keep strict fasting on Christmas Eve as a symbol of humility and honor to the newly-born Little Jesus. The ceremonial evening meal, which includes most prominently fish and wafers with honey, symbolizes unity of the family, which should meet at the common table throughout the next year," said ethnologist Iveta Zuskinova.
Roman Catholics celebrate Christmas vigil masses in the afternoon and in the evening of Christmas Eve. An inseparable part of the Christmas Eve in Roman Catholic churches is the midnight mass with believers singing carols, among them also the famous "Silent Night, Holy Night" composed by Austrian organist Franz Xaver Gruber in 1818.
"Slovak folk customs linked to Christmas Eve focused on securing success throughout the coming year by concentrating together all the important components for contentment in life. For instance, it was said that the mood or frame of mind a person had on this day would continue throughout the upcoming year. If children were unruly and were punished, this would typically be the case next year as well," explained ethnologist Katarina Nadaska.
The day was marked by preparations for the festive dinner. Men prepared to take care of the cattle even before sunrise. Women baked cakes and cooked Christmas meals.
"Dinner started with a prayer. Eating leguminous plants symbolized riches, while honey and garlic was for protection of health. Anybody kicking the table's legs risked pain in their own legs in the following year. Blowing on the food could result in mouth pain. Leaving the table was also considered particularly inappropriate," added Nadaska.