Is Slovakia Stuck In The 1950’s? – 13 Examples Of How It Is

1950’s

April 28, 2017

Allan Stevo

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.

I’d like to know what you think.  Does it sound like Slovakia is “stuck” in the 1950’s?  Is some of it good?  Is some of it bad?  I don’t intend to inspire any mindless nostalgia, but perhaps a discussion on what things about America’s past and Slovakia’s present are good and worthy of repetition.

Click here to keep reading Is Slovakia Stuck In The 1950’s? – 13 Examples Of How It Is

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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Easter Monday In Slovakia

 

Easter Monday

April 21, 2017

Allan Stevo

There is an interesting tradition that takes place the day after Easter Sunday in Slovakia, on a day known as “Easter Monday” – Veľkonočný pondelok. Any short description of the event will sound barbaric. In fact, any in-depth description of the tradition is likely to sound barbaric as well.

This is my one sentence description: “In Slovakia, in addition to being a time for family and friends to visit, Easter Monday is a day of flirting and playful interplay between boys and girls, men and women.” Some may interpret the event as having deep cultural significance beyond that. I am one such person, but I have no deeper explanation to provide you with on that topic at this time.

What I do have are the following pieces on 52 Weeks in Slovakia that may be of interest to the reader of this website looking to better understand the Slovak Easter Monday tradition.

  • Translating Sibacka: The Whipping Ceremony discusses translations into English for the Slovak Easter Monday tradition known in Slovak as “Sibacka” and explains why I have settled on the term “Slovak Whipping Ceremony.” The discussion below the article, as always, allows for the insight of others on the topic as well.

This is essentially my Easter Monday compendium. If you have any comments that you would like to add to the topic (and I realize that there are many, many opinions, and many facets of the tradition that can be commented on) please feel free to comment below this piece or any of the pieces linked from this page. Wishing you a happy Easter Monday.

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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10 Videos That You Might Not Like – The Sibacka Captured On Film

Šibačka Videos

April 19, 2017

Allan Stevo

Some videos inevitably made the rounds a few weeks back as Easter Monday approached and Slovak youth – instead of going out into the wild to braid willow chutes and socialize with male and female friends alike by visiting houses whip in hand – chose to get on Facebook and watch videos of other people doing exactly that.

Embedded below are some videos from šibačka. What I like about the videos is the way that they, in sum, show a few different aspects of the šibačka.  With every few videos of šibačka that you come across on the internet, you are sure to see a new aspect that you might never considered to be part of the tradition.

Though some of these videos may offend, I figure it’s only fair to share some footage of what generally happens during šibačka.  It can appear brutal or can also appear cute.  The camera though tends to remove the viewer from the situation and makes it easier to criticize.  Though there is much I like about the šibačka, I even cringed a little when the gal in this first video, who really appears to be happy to be the center of attention kept getting bucket after bucket dumped on her on an overcast day.  A friend commented on this video in a compelling email that I thought I’d share here.

Click here to keep reading 10 Videos That You Might Not Like – The Sibacka Captured On Film

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 Slovak Whipping Ceremony – 11 Reasons To Hate It

Anti-Šibačka

April 16, 2017

Allan Stevo

I once hated the šibačka.  It is, after all, the ceremonial whipping of women by men.  Need I say more? Once I challenged myself, by bring myself out of my comfort zone to better understand the šibačka, I learned to see the šibačka from a different perspective.  There are aspects of it I dislike, but unlike many non-Slovaks, and some Slovaks, I can make sense of the tradition and have found many reasons to like it.  Below are some of the reasons I have heard people dislike the šibačka.

1. Superficiality
On its surface, and only on its surface, the whipping ceremony is an abuse of women.  If you can’t get beyond the possibility that it isn’t an abuse of women, then you aren’t going to be able to interact with the tradition enough to understand what is happening.

2. Unwillingness to Challenge Themselves
The Hinlicky Rule is often cited by me.  It encourages one to challenge opinions they intend to argue in favor of, especially when they hold a belief that they understand to be an unimpeachable and obvious conclusion. Again, I was once uncomfortable with the šibačka.  It sounded barbaric.  When I challenged myself, I started to see a different side.

Click here to keep reading The Slovak Whipping Ceremony – 11 Reasons To Hate It

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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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

April 15, 2017

Allan Stevo

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.

Click here to keep reading Happy Easter Again ! When Easter Is Celebrated Among The Rusyn People Of Slovakia

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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Translating Sibacka: The Whipping Ceremony

Translating Šibačka

April 14, 2017

Allan Stevo

It’s common that I will encounter the question “How do you say šibačka in English?”  I have yet to conclusively use a set translation for my purposes.  While English is effective at borrowing many foreign loan words, I feel like the word šibačka, as cool as it is, might not find a home in the English.  Šibačka needs a translation to make the tradition easier to talk about outside of Slovak with those unfamiliar with the practice of šibačka and the term.  Perhaps “whipping ritual” or “whipping ceremony” conveys the point.  I would argue that šibačka is ceremonious and follows some set patterns and because of that, either word might be appropriate.

Click here to keep reading Translating Sibacka: The Whipping Ceremony

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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Women Watch Out For This In Slovakia

Whips

April 14, 2017

Allan Stevo

For some, part of the Slovak Easter Monday celebration includes whipping or “watering” members of the fairer sex.

Most females seek to avoid such whippings.  Some females welcome them for a variety of reasons that I will not go in depth about at this time, but which range from good blessings of health and beauty to simply socializing with friends and family.

Some day (not today) I will sit down and write more about my feelings of the Easter Monday tradition.  It’s a topic I’ve been writing about for more than a year, but that I have not yet finished writing about.  There is much behind this celebration that is not initially apparent.   Once a tradition I considered barbaric, I dug more deeply and started to learn to see why the tradition is in fact something very special, something even under-appreciated by many Slovaks.

As for now, I will simply wish you a Happy Easter and hope that if you are female, you keep an eye out for whips on Monday – so that you can either run from the bearer of the whip or run towards him (depending on your feelings about this tradition).  For those of you who have never been chased by a male carrying a whip as you scream at the top of your lungs, I will include a few photos that you may know what to look for.  Happy Easter.

Click here to keep reading Women Watch Out For This In Slovakia

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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An Easter Gift For My Readers: The Elusive Hrudka

Hrudka

April 12, 2017

Allan Stevo

Note: This article originally appeared as a guest post at SlovakCooking.com.

This Thursday Bratislava empties out.  You don’t want to be on the road, on a train, or even on a bus out of town on Thursday afternoon, because it’s going to be standing room and bumper to bumper.  It’s more crowded than other times of the year.  Each weekend brings heavy traffic as well–Bratislava empties out on Fridays and fills again on Sunday evenings as people return from their ancestral villages.  However, Easter is an even greater extreme.  Many, many people leave town and do so all at once – on Thursday afternoon.

Easter is an important family holiday in Slovakia and “hrudka” is an Easter staple in Eastern Slovakia.  I’ve been lucky over the years to spend Easter with close friends and family in Slovakia.  I have not been able, however, to spend Easter with a family from the East, meaning that while I have heard of this food called hrudka, for 8 longs years I have only been able to theorize about what this elusive food might taste like.  Until now.

Over the last three weeks, I have been intensively asking people I encounter from Eastern Slovakia about hrudka.  I did not expect the answers I received, but I should not have been surprised.  To this point, I have not found one household that makes hrudka precisely like any other household.  Despite its simple base recipe, the variations on this basic recipe are virtually endless.

Generally, hrudka, also known to some as “syrek,” is made to taste salty. In some cities in Eastern Slovakia, however, the tradition is to make a sweet hrudka.  Some families make their syrek very salty, akin to some very salty cheeses.  One family I know of even makes hrudka that contains both a generous amount of salt and a more generous amount of sugar.

Any way you make it, hrudka tastes good.  Below are two versions of hrudka that you can try at home.

Click here to keep reading An Easter Gift For My Readers: The Elusive Hrudka

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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