Happy Easter Again ! When Easter is Celebrated Among the Rusyn People of Slovakia

Easter Eggs from the Rusyn Lands. | Photo: Pavlo  Markovyc, www.pysanky.info

Rusyns

May 1, 2016

Allan Stevo

With Orthodox Easter here, I present you an article from the archives of 52 Weeks in Slovakia.

Slovakia is Central Europe by many definitions. Those who say otherwise generally tend to be ignorant on the topic or joking around.

For example, I’ve been told in jest that the vychodňari (people of Eastern Slovakia) are of a different mind than the rest of the people of Slovakia and that Asia starts at Štrba (a village in central/eastern Slovakia, below the High Tatras, above the Low Tatras, situated along the European Continental Divide). Not only is it not the start of Asia, it’s not even the start of Eastern Europe.

East Moved West

After World War II, Eastern Europe came west, swallowing up much of Central Europe and blurring the borders. That extra blurring of the borders by the aggressively extraterritorial Russians made the borders so blurry that to many, Europe went from analogue to digital – where there was previously much gray began to be perceived as black and white. “The ability to capture the subtle nature of the real world is the advantage of analog techniques.”  The analogue nature of life, and especially the analogue nature of the polyglot land called Central Europe was lost in the power struggle between the two world empires – the Eurasian USSR and the North American USA. In this more digital, this more binary model, you were either West or East. Many outsiders saw it as being either “for us” or “against us.” And it didn’t really matter who the “us” was, much of the world saw that clear digital division.  When you’re talking about borders its important to remember how blurry borders can be.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com.  He is from Chicago and spends most of his time travelling 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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An Inheritance from Communism?

Photo: Bachspics

Slovak Workers and ‘Pat a Mat

April 29, 2016

Allan Stevo

With the 1st of May here, an important state holiday from communist times, I present to you this article from the archives of 52 Weeks in Slovakia.

At a bus stop, I see two Bratislava city workers moving leaves and dust about on this dry fall morning – one with a leaf blower, the other with a shovel.  The one with the leaf blower does nothing a broom couldn’t accomplish as he dusts up the passengers-to-be at the bus stop and sends dry leaves out into the street.  He doesn’t actually leave the bus stop leaf-free.  He proceeds to move more leaves out onto the street, directing some onto the waiting shovel, and he and his colleague go about their way, having accomplished little with their leaf blower/shovel combination.

Watching these two men work.  Heck, watching nearly any skilled and unskilled laborer in Bratislava work, leaves me feeling like communism did a real number on Slovak society.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com.  He is from Chicago and spends most of his time travelling 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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Is Slovakia Stuck in the 1950’s? – 13 Examples of How It Is

1950’s

April 15, 2016

Allan Stevo

Below is piece about the aspects of Slovak culture from the archives of 52 Weeks in Slovakia.

Many people consider the past to be both old and bad.  I try not to assume that what is old is bad.  Nor do I believe that time necessarily brings progress.  For example, there are times when a person can look back and say, “We took a turn back there and it might have been  bad decision.”  Though time may have passed, spending years going down the wrong road is not progress.

Below I have listed items that I consider both admirable and worthy of mention.  These are aspects of Slovak culture, that, for all practical purposes, Americans once had and have generally parted with.  While I did not live in the 1950’s, so many Americans visiting Slovakia have said to me about Slovakia “Well, that’s sort of like how it was in the 1950’s,” that it’s hard to ignore this comparison.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com.  He is from Chicago and spends most of his time travelling 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 Man Even Americans Should Know

Gagarin Circles the Earth

April 12, 2016

Allan Stevo

On 12 April 1961, Yuri Gagarin made the first human flight in space. With that in mind, I present to you this piece from the archives of 52 Weeks in Slovakia.

On April 12, 1961 Yuri Gagarin went into space and circled Earth.  May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard did the first of those feats.  February 20, 1962, almost a year later, John Glenn accomplished both of those feats.

January 27, 1986, I learned about Americans John Glenn and Alan Shepard but someone, somehow neglected to mention Russian Yuri Gagarin.  This lesson took place the day before my class and I were shuttled into the “learning center,” as our school library was then called, and were all sat down to watch the space shuttle Challenger go 73 seconds into the air before doing what every kid in that room immediately understood to be blowing up.  The teachers were the ones who had a hard time acknowledging that fact.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com.  He is from Chicago and spends most of his time travelling 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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Can Bear’s Garlic Kill You?

Bear's Garlic at a Farmers Market.jpg

Bear’s Garlic

April 10, 2016

Allan Stevo

With spring here, I present to you this springtime article from the archives of 52 Weeks in Slovakia.

Can Bear’s Garlic Kill You?

No.

Some people might confuse it with other plants, such as lily-of-the-valley or autumn crocus, which can be poisonous.  There’s an important difference, however.

Rub the leaves of bear’s garlic before you pick it. It will smell like garlic.  Here’s a little more about plants sometimes mistaken for bear’s garlic:

“Since bear’s garlic has become so popular, many people have tried to collect the plant in the wild. Several cases of poisoning have been reported in recent years, as there are a few toxic plants with roughly similar leaves, particularly lily of the valley (Convallaria majus, Convallariaceae/Asparaginales) and autumn crocus (meadow saffron, naked ladies, Colchicum autumnale, Colchicaceae/Liliales). Both plants do not show even traces of garlic odour, and similarities are in the best case superficial, or even non-existent.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com.  He is from Chicago and spends most of his time travelling 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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Chicago – The Field of Bear’s Garlic

Illinois in 1718 from Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississipi by Guillaume de L'Isle.

Chicago Bear’s Garlic

April 8, 2016

Allan Stevo

With spring here, I present to you this springtime article from the archives of 52 Weeks in Slovakia.

My native Chicago is believed to have been named for the large number of bear’s garlic growing rampant in the area where the river met the lake, with the name of the city being a corruption of the word used by the local Indians for bear’s garlic. Here’s Henri Joutel writing in 1687:

We arrived at a place which is named Chicagou, which, according to what we learned, has taken its name from the quantity of garlic which grows in this district, in the woods … a species of garlic in quantity which is not entirely like that of France, having its leaf broader and shorter, and is also not so strong, though its taste closely approaches it but is not like the little onions or the onion of France.

The same word was used by the Illinois and Miami tribes for the skunk according to John F. Swenson in this essay about Chicago.  The Potowatami who had later displaced the Miami tribe used the same word – chicago –  for native garlic and wild onion.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com.  He is from Chicago and spends most of his time travelling 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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Ramps, a Word Americans Should Stop Using

Ramps for Sale

Ramps

April 7, 2016

Allan Stevo

With spring here, I present to you this springtime article from the archives of 52 Weeks in Slovakia.

One of my favorite delicacy from Slovakia starts to shoot out of the earth at this time of year. Then they disappears as quickly as they came. Some areas of forest fill with them and correspondingly some of the markets fill with them.

They are an almost flimsy, green leaf that taste deliciously like a gentle bite of lightly sautéed garlic, one of the first vegetables to appear in the spring, these plants with a delicate green leaf have a surprisingly pronounced taste.  In the U.S. they are called “ramps.”

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com.  He is from Chicago and spends most of his time travelling 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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Kezmarok Library


Kezmarok Library

April 5, 2016

Allan Stevo

Below is piece about the Kezmarok Library from the archives of 52 Weeks in Slovakia.

According to a discussion I had with a librarian there, the city of Kezmarok has a fantastic library that survived World War II, at least until the Red Army came through.  Books printed by Guttenberg himself where strewn on the floor by the soldiers and shelves of old religious manuscripts were knocked over and desecrated by the liberating soldiers of the Red Army.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com.  He is from Chicago and spends most of his time travelling 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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