Slovak Public School Kids Go to Catholic Mass on This Day

The Roman Catholic Church in Oravska Polhora. | Photo: Fero Vorcak, www.BielaFarma.sk


First Day of School

September 1, 2015

Allan Stevo

With the start of the school year upon us, I present to you an article from the archives of 52 Weeks in Slovakia discussing a common tradition on the first day of school.

As American kids celebrated Labor Day, Slovak kids went back to school.  Because there is a centralized system of education, some guy sitting in a government office in Bratislava says when every grade school and high school – both state schools and church schools – goes back to school.  This year that was on September 5.

In some communities in Slovakia, that also meant that hundreds of kids walked down the street that stretched from their public grade school’s doors to the local Roman Catholic Church, where they prayed for a good year ahead.

Click here to keep reading Slovak Public School Kids Go to Catholic Mass on This Day

Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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My Students

Students in class | Photo: Jakub Forgács, Dnes24.sk

Students in class | Photo: Jakub Forgács, Dnes24.sk


My students

August 31, 2015

Allan Stevo

In late 2006, I published my first book, a collection of poetry called Somewhere between Bratislava and DC. The book sold well and received good reviews. Distribution systems then were not as good as they are today, though it did make its way around to readers in a number of countries quite nicely. In an attempt to make that writing available to audiences, the book has been re-released in a fourth edition. It’s a collection of poetry that I am still proud of nearly a decade later, because it did such a good job of pointing to the philosophical struggles I was having at the time of the writing and did so in the ideal location of Central Europe, namely Slovakia, in a place that can so often feel so “in between.”

Each Monday, I’ll be posting poems from Somewhere between Bratislava and DC here on 52 Weeks in Slovakia. All poems were written by me originally in English. Translations into Slovak were done by the Bratislava-based Martina Polakova. This week, there will be a collection of poems that have to do with the students I was teaching at the time and the various messages society sends them. The first poem in this collection serves at the dedication to the book.

 

Pausing to watch my students before
the day begins

Eagerly at work, the students filter obediently
into the schoolhouse to have their minds
shaped into a thing that would better serve
society.

a corporate functionary

a diplomat

a government clerk

The brightest will get the best paying jobs,
with a chance to one day be the chief
servant of a corporation.
Those with talent in foreign languages will be
able to go abroad to convince others that
a foreign politician understand them, to
translate other’s ideas into
a more digestible form.
In the end we will all have been ants,
deconstructing the world around us. Refining
nature piece by piece.
Building a pyramid piece by piece.

a new order
same rules
the most capable survive
we will hold our place in that pyramid
we helped to build;
not the lowest; not the highest,
uncomfortably in the middle.

Trained to believe that uncomfortably in the middle
is the way to live life.
That all things come through comfort
that nature is disharmony
and lacks utopia.

 
*  *  *
 

Zastavujem, aby som mohol pozorovať svojich
študentov pred tým ako začne deň

Dychtivo v práci, študenti vsakujú poslušne
do školskej budovy, aby svoje mysle
sformovali do niečoho, čo by lepšie poslúžilo
spoločnosti.

nadriadený

diplomat

vládny tajomník

Najmúdrejší dostanú to najlepšie zamestnanie
s príležitosťou stať sa jedného dňa hlavným
otrokom spoločnosti.
Tí s talentom na cudzie jazyky budú
môcť odísť do zahraničia presvedčiť ostatných, že
zahraničný politik im rozumie,
schopní preložiť myšlienky iných do
stráviteľnejšej formy.
Na konci sme všetci boli mravce
meniace svet okolo nás. Vylepšujúce
prírodu kúsok po kúsku.
Stavajúce pyramídu kúsok po kúsku.

nový poriadok
rovnaké pravidlá
najschopnejší prežijú
budeme si držať to miesto v pyramíde,
ktorú sme pomáhali stavať;
nie najnižšie; nie najvyššie,
nepohodlne v strede.

Vytrénovaní veriť, že nepohodlne v strede
je spôsob ako prežiť život.
Že všetky veci pochádzajú z pohodlia,
že príroda je disharmónia
a chýba jej utópia.

 
*  *  *
 

 

Talking to Jožo's Younger Brother “What happened to all of Jožo’s model airplanes?” -“I tied them to a parrot to make them fly and they all got destroyed.” “How many were there?” -“Eleven, and he might still have other unfinished ones that he’ll never do.” “Maybe his kids’ll do’em,” I suggested. How easily it came out of my mouth, The idea that the unrealized Dreams of the past Automatically become the work of The next generation Rather than to let them choose their own. When will a generation choose their own Dreams to pursue without the Influence of has-beens? - - Status as an elder, Given a pulpit because of his old Age - the reward that comes to those Who never lay their neck across The chopping block for anything Worthy of drawing the attention of The butcher. Those are the elders we turn to for advice On how to utilize our youthful vigor; Those who squandered the vigor that Accompanied their youth. And they are given the title Statesman, diplomat, or even leader, - a word thrown around, most often in places devoid of leaders. - the art of inaction - the art of compromise - the art of living to appear suited for battle, another day - to look like you’ll fight - to know the art of graft - to be a leader, to know about when the choicest cuts of meat will become available and to secure them for your family to be able to train a successor in your arts, to use his youth in pursuit of your dreams, will make you known as a truly great leader, one who left a legacy, teaching those with youthful exuberance the habits that will allow them to grow old and fat as you yourself have -

 
*  *  *
 

 

Zhovárať sa s Jožovým mladším bratom „Čo sa stalo so všetkými Jožovými modelmi lietadiel?“ -„Priviazal som ich k papagájovi, aby lietali a oni sa všetky zničili.“ „Koľko ich bolo?“ -„Jedenásť a ešte stále by mal mať nejaké nedokončené, ktoré nikdy nedostavia.“ „Možno ich dostavajú jeho deti,“ navrhol som mu. Ako ľahko to vyšlo z mojich úst, Myšlienka, že nezrealizované Sny minulosti Sa automaticky stanú dielom Ďalšej generácie Radšej, ako nechať ich vybrať si svoju vlastnú cestu. Kedy si generácia vyberie svoje vlastné Sny na uskutočnenie, bez Vplyvu tých čo boli? Postavenie staršieho, Ktorému dali kazateľnicu kvôli jeho vyššiemu veku- -odmena, ktorá prichádza tým, Ktorí nikdy nepoložia svoj krk na klát, za nič čo je Hodné pritiahnutia pozornosti Kata. To sú tí starší, ku ktorým sa obraciame pre radu, Ako využiť našu silu; Tí, ktorí mrhali svojou silou, Ktorá sprevádzala ich mladosť. A tí dostávajú nálepku Predstaviteľa štátu, diplomata alebo dokonca vodcu, - slovo povedané len mimochodom, zväčša na miestach zbavených vodcov. - umenie nečinnosti - umenie kompromisu - umenie žitia, za ktoré bude lepšie bojovať niekedy inokedy - vyzerať, že budeš bojovať - poznať umenie korupcie - byť vodcom, vedieť, kedy budú k dispozícií najvyberanejšie kúsky mäsa a zabezpečiť svoju rodinu byť schopný vyškoliť nástupcu vo svojich umeniach, použiť jeho mladosť v honbe za tvojimi snami, to z teba spraví skutočne veľkého vodcu, toho, ktorý zanechal odkaz, učiaceho tých s mladistvou neviazanosťou zvyky, vďaka ktorým zostarnú a stučnejú, tak ako aj ty -

 
*  *  *
 

 

Usual Question, Usual Answer What will you study? “Business,” responded the college freshman, recognizing that it was said to be the easiest way to make money. “Business,” responded the mediocre engineering student looking to switch majors, recognizing it as a way to make money with a minimal amount of effort. “Business,” said the business student, never having been comfortable in classes outside of his major, recognizing it as a way of making money that required little thinking. A mediocre businessman need Not think about anything more complex Than how to improve the bottom line. Need not take risk, Need not be an innovator, Need not worry about an uncomfortable life, Need not challenge the idea that “we can’t all be leaders.” -

 
*  *  *
 

 

Obvyklá otázka, obvyklá odpoveď Čo budeš študovať? „Ekonómiu,“ odpovedal prvák na vysokej, pretože si uvedomil, že je to najjednoduchšia cesta, ako zarobiť peniaze. „Ekonómia,“ odpovedal priemerný študent strojárstva uvažujúci nad zmenou špecializácie, pretože si uvedomil, že je to cesta ako zarobiť peniaze s minimálnou snahou. „Ekonómia,“ povedal študent ekonómie, ktorý sa nikdy necítil príjemne na hodinách mimo svojej špecializácie, pretože si uvedomil, že je to cesta ako prísť k peniazom, ktorá nevyžaduje veľa rozmýšľania. Priemerný podnikateľ nepotrebuje Rozmýšľať o ničom komplikovanejšom, Ako o zlepšení profitu. Nepotrebuje riskovať, Nepotrebuje byť novátorom, Nepotrebuje sa báť nepohodlného života Nepotrebuje spochybniť myšlienku, že „nemôžeme byť všetci vodcami.“ -

Child with a plane | Photo: http://punkufer.dnevnik.hr/

Child with a plane | Photo: http://punkufer.dnevnik.hr/


Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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“A Poem and a Child” / “Báseň a dieťa” by Milan Rufus

Childhood Dream | Photo: theSong  deviantart.net

Childhood Dream | Photo: theSong deviantart.net


 

Rufus – A Poem and a Child

August 28, 2015

Allan Stevo

Each Friday, another poem appears on 52 Weeks in Slovakia from Slovak Nobel Prize nominee Milan Rufus (1928-2009). These poems come from a translation excerpted from his final book Ako stopy v snehu (Like Footprints in the Snow) and appear in the book In Poems released in June 2015, written by Rufus, translated by me, and published by our team at 52 Weeks in Slovakia.

Leave it to a poet to glorify the poem. At the same time, leave it to the aged Rufus to glorify childhood. As we’ve seen in several of his other poems, the glorification of childhood is a favorite theme of his. Here he glorifies them both.

Without any further ado I present to you “A Poem and a Child” by the writer who more than any other at the time of his death was deserving of the title “the unofficial poet laureate of Slovakia” – Milan Rufus.

 

A Poem and a Child

The world of childhood.
Everything melts in its brightness.
And shines humanity over tired bones.

The world of childhood –
a poem lived by children.
Reality in this world is a miracle
and miracle here a reality.

If you can’t figure out
what here is being served,
bow down to her
and ask the Muse.

The Muse will tell you,
with a little thrill:

A poem and a child,
are twins hand in hand.

 

*  *  *

 

Báseň a dieťa

Krajina detstva.
Celá sa topí v jase.
A svieti ľudstvu nad unavenou kosťou.

Krajina detstva – deťmi žitá báseň.
Skutočnosť je tu zázrakom
a zázrak skutočnosťou.

Ak neuhádneš, čo tu čomu slúži,
pokloň sa jej
a opýtaj sa Múzy.

Múza ti povie,
trochu dojatá:

– Báseň a dieťa?
To sú dvojčatá. –



Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

Milan Rufus (December 10, 1928 – January 11, 2009) was the unofficial poet laureate of Slovakia. This Nobel Prize nominee has the uncommon distinction of being a poet who has regularly outsold trade paper and mass market fiction. A collection of Rufus’s poems translated by Stevo entitled “In Poems” is now available. 

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Slovaks Have Bagpipes Too

 

 
Gajdy

August 27, 2015

Allan Stevo

This time of year, an international festival of bagpipes is held in the northern Slovak region of Orava. While Americans may only know of Scottish and Irish bagpipes and therefore find a relatively remote area of Slovakia an unusual place to have a bagpipe festival, like many other cultures, Slovaks have a long tradition of bagpipers. I present to you an article from the archives on this festival and this tradition.

As a child growing up on the south side of Chicago, at this time of year I watched practically everyone take any, even minuscule (1/256), Irish ancestry and parade it around like it was the coolest thing on earth. They would tell colourful jokes with brogues, discuss what it really meant for St Patrick to chase the snakes from Ireland, and would shout over green beers and green rivers about the potato famine.

The drone of bagpipes, a rebel instrument, was always my favorite part of the day. The drone of banned bagpipes. The drone resonates deep inside. It builds the soul, it solidifies the fortitude , it enlivens the spirit, it makes the brave braver.

Click here to keep reading Slovaks Have Bagpipes Too

Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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13 Slovak Words for the Venerable Potato

 

 

Words for Potato

August 25, 2015

Allan Stevo

With the potato season upon us, I present to you a piece from the archives of 52 Weeks in Slovakia about the potato harvest in Slovakia, the significance of potatoes in Slovak culture, and the many words for potato that exist in the Slovak language.

It may come as no surprise to many that potatoes play a special role in Slovak culture. In some parts of the country a peasant meal of some potatoes, some fatty bacon, and some milk cooked together make for a comfort food on a cold wet, day. The “national dish” is aged sheep cheese mixed into potato dumplings with bacon and lard drizzled on top. Where there aren’t potatoes, there’s at least bread, and sometimes rice, but often enough, I’ve been served a little rice AND a little potatoes on one plate. Potatoes are a staple in these lands.

I believe potatoes are part of the reason I’ve felt a Slovak appreciation for the Irish. The impoverished Irish had their potato famine and many ultimately ran to America to escape the turmoil of home. How dire life would be if for years the potato crop were abysmal in Slovakia. Some cultures can empathize with the Irish, Slovaks can sympathize with them. They know how important a good harvest of potatoes can be to having a good year.

Click here to keep reading 13 Words for the Venerable Potato

Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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“The Quiet Miracle of Motherhood” / “Tichý zázrak materstva” by Milan Rufus

Motherhood

Motherhood


 
Rufus – The Quiet Miracle of Motherhood

August 21, 2015

Allan Stevo

Each Friday, another poem appears on 52 Weeks in Slovakia from Slovak Nobel Prize nominee Milan Rufus (1928-2009). These poems come from a translation excerpted from his final book Ako stopy v snehu (Like Footprints in the Snow) and appear in the book In Poems released in June 2015, written by Rufus, translated by me, and published by our team at 52 Weeks in Slovakia.

Rufus in his final book spent a great deal of time looking back at childhood, an important theme for Rufus in his work in general. Some observers theorized during his lifetime that this had to do with the tight relationship that existed in his three person family – he, his wife, and an adult daughter with disabilities who was in some ways childlike. Whatever the source, we see Rufus throughout his work with an appreciation for childhood and the beauty of parenting.

Without any further ado I present to you “The Quiet Miracle of Motherhood” by the writer who more than any other at the time of his death was deserving of the title “the unofficial poet laureate of Slovakia” – Milan Rufus.

 

The Quiet Miracle of Motherhood

Nothing new from the workshop of God:
Love makes a man vulnerable.

Out of this spirit is made such a holiday,
such a great holiday that the pain
is worth it.

Love – it’s not a child of the moment.
Love is long, life is short.

Do you not understand that hidden power?
Then ask your mother.

Mother is a well; you are a bucket.
A well full of living water.

That you could draw from
for a thousand years
And not exhaust.

So kneel before her
And only after may you leave.

 

*  *  *

 

Tichý zázrak materstva

Nič nového niet v Božej dielni:
láskou je človek zraniteľný.

No z duše spraví taký sviatok,
že jej tá rana stála za to.

Láska – to nie je dieťa chvíle.
Láska je dlhá, život krátky.

Nerozumieš tej skrytej sile?
Pýtaj sa na ňu svojej matky.

Matka je studňa, ty si okov.
Je studňa plná živej vody.

Čo by si čerpal tisíc rokov,
nevyčerpáš ju.

Nuž si kľakni.

Až potom vstaň a odíď.



Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

Milan Rufus (December 10, 1928 – January 11, 2009) was the unofficial poet laureate of Slovakia. This Nobel Prize nominee has the uncommon distinction of being a poet who has regularly outsold trade paper and mass market fiction. A collection of Rufus’s poems translated by Stevo entitled “In Poems” is now available. 

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The Harvest Is In

VinobraniePhoto
Vinobranie

August 20, 2015

Allan Stevo

With the grape harvest upon us, I present to you a piece on the grape harvest in Slovakia and the various grape harvest celebrations that take place in the wine making areas of the country.

As summer comes to an end, the grapes begin to sweeten on the vine. The sweeter the berry, the stronger the wine. And just like many Americans long for football and all its fanfare, as the air gets chilly many Slovaks around Bratislava get exited for Vinobranie – the celebration of the grape harvest.

Pezinok, Rača, and Modra are the biggest near Bratislava, but many towns and families around Slovakia have forms of grape harvest celebrations, some large enough to include several towns and cities, others that are intimate with just a few family members and neighbors enjoying that year’s harvest.

Click here to keep reading The Harvest Is In

Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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Mushroom Season is Here

Summer Cep, Popular Mushroom in Slovakia | Photo: nahuby.sk

Summer Cep, Popular Mushroom in Slovakia | Photo: nahuby.sk


Mushrooms

August 18, 2015

Allan Stevo

With the mushroom season upon us, I present to you a few unusual links from the archives of 52 Weeks in Slovakia. A famous poisoning with mushrooms, the origins of the English word grub, and a Bohemian folk tale on mushrooms.

Sitting down for some “Grub” – It’s an English term related to the Slovak for Mushroom

Slovaks Love Mushrooms – In the English Language We Call them “toadstools” – Why?

The Origins of Mushrooms – A Bohemian Folktale

How Maria Theresa’s Dad Died From Eating Poisonous Mushrooms

How the Slavs First Came to Know Mushrooms

Advice On How to Kill With A Slovak Mushroom

Fly Agaric, Poisonous Mushroom | Photo: howitworksdaily.com

Fly Agaric, Poisonous Mushroom | Photo: howitworksdaily.com


Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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