Why’s Everyone Wearing Green Ribbons?

Stužková

October 16, 2017

Allan Stevo

Society ball season is months away – lasting from Epiphany in January to Ash Wednesday in March. Balls take place night after night as ballrooms fill with people in formal dress who will spend their evening doing the Viennese waltz as well as a host of other social dances from the region. But in the upcoming weeks something similar will be taking place.

Ubiquitous green ribbons (stužky) pop up all over Slovakia, worn only by students who have attended their own stužkovás. “Ribbon ceremony” is how one might translate stužková. It’s a ceremony that takes place, often in the autumn of a student’s final year of high school during which their “class teacher” and the director of their school present each student with a green ribbon.

Everyone arrives in formal dress, and students especially – the 18-, 19-, 20-year-old young ladies appear in glorious gowns, donning hairstyles that look as if hours were spent on them. The young men wear their freshly polished shoes and nicely pressed new suits – or depending on the fit, possibly a suit that was freshly borrowed from Dad.

Preparation starts months ahead as students run around jockeying for the most coveted spots in town for holding a stužková. This is a night that will be talked about by people long into the future. Location is key. And just like everything else in Slovakia, the location of stužkovás often seems to be based on who you know. Out of a class of several dozen students, someone usually has a mom or dad, aunt or uncle with contacts in a great spot. Most of the 10 stužkovás I have been to have had their locations determined in this way.

Click here to keep reading Why’s Everyone Wearing Green Ribbons?

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Safety Advice For Hiking In The High Tatras

Safety Advice For Hiking In The High Tatras

October 11, 2017

Allan Stevo

Below is some information from Lonely Planet’s Czech and Slovak Republics, 5th Edition about hiking safely in the Tatras.  The High Tatras are not scary and are not particularly high, but it can be dangerous to head into them unprepared.  To the tips below, I would add –

  • get mountain rescue insurance before going on your trip (a very quick and inexpensive process),
  • have your telephone with you (Slovakia is a small country with extensive mobile phone coverage, meaning that I have had a signal with my mobile phone carrier – Orange – even on the highest of Slovak peeks),
  • keep the mountain rescue service number programmed in your phone (18300 is the current number from a Slovak phone, but be sure to verify that before starting your trip),
  • keep a basic first aid kit with you (I’m trained in wilderness First Aid with the Red Cross and I know that having a first aid kit with me is a common sense way to make it easier to handle an emergency that may arise – this is a small, inexpensive first aid kit, good for travelling off the beaten path and hiking, similar to the one I use)
  • have a trail map with you and always know where you are on that trail map, in case you need to evacuate, call for help, or change the originally intended route.  Such maps circulate freely and are easy to borrow, inexpensive to buy.

Click here to keep reading Safety Advice For Hiking In The High Tatras

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why I Prefer Old Slovak Trains To “Better” Western European Trains

Slovak Trains

October 9, 2017

Allan Stevo

In the year 2010 if you step into a train in Slovakia, it is likely a train built 30 years ago. A train that squeaks and is so noisy that the gentle rocking won’t work you to sleep. Each window opens, or is at least supposed to open. The seats often stick to your skin on hot days and chill your clothed skin with a hard vinyl on cold days. Still upholstered with the original materials of 30 years ago and mended with duct tape-like material here and there. If the lights work they are harsh, but can be switched off in each six- or eight-passenger compartment, each coupé, as the Europeans are fond of calling them. The toilets have ages of wear on them that are indecipherable from filthiness. When you flush, a trap door in the toilet opens to reveal the sound, sight, and draft of the tracks below. There is no pretense of there being a storage tank on this train.

This train is the superior train in Slovakia, a train you are lucky to be on if you have the opportunity. Every passenger on that train can control the temperature, the level of draft that reaches him or her, the amount of light, out of politeness by first asking the six other people in the coupé if they wouldn’t mind and then opening or closing a window, door, drapes, hanging a head or arm out into the breeze, switching on the heat or air-conditioning, turning the lights on or off. This is the communist built train that surprisingly exemplifies and recognizes the freedom of the individual, a responsibility to people immediately around him, the ability to change things immediately around him.

Click here to keep reading Why I Prefer Old Slovak Trains To “Better” Western European Trains

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Media Has Helped Lead The American People To This Moment In History And Now They Blame Donald Trump

American Journalism

September 27, 2017

Allan Stevo

“If it bleeds, it leads,” is a long held maxim in journalism. The concept being that the more effectively you can terrify a person, the more readers, listeners, and viewers you will have, and correspondingly the more you can charge for advertising. Media, for decades, has, in many ways, been a race to the bottom, a search for the absolute lowest in society.

Suicides are heavily reported on, the gorier the better, despite a nearly undeniable copycat effect. Violent crimes are heavily covered, as well as acts of terror, both of which produce the same copycat effect. Programmers, after all, don’t exist with the benefit of the individual viewer in mind. They exist with detail to ratings and ad revenue.

Decades of the boob tube and it’s surrogates spewed on a smart, though relatively uneducated American public, has turned many into boobs. Many more of us than ever before end up graduating from high school. Many more of us end up in college. Many more of us end up with advanced degrees. Yet we are more lacking in common sense, empathy, and human connection than ever.

Horrible progressive nonsense is thrown at us day and night with every media titan’s agenda mixed in. We are told subtly that the Constitution is the enemy, capitalism is the enemy, traditional values are the enemy.

Click here to keep reading The Media Has Helped Lead The American People To This Moment In History And Now They Blame Donald Trump

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.

Photo credit: twitter.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Importance Of Cordial Discussions

The Decline of Free Speech in America

September 26, 2017

Allan Stevo
 

I was once a proud socialist.

I exposed those deeply held views to scrutiny.

They did not hold up.

I was left with the same core beliefs for a more just world. I just came to recognize a more just world wouldn’t be made a reality by chasing politicians down a promised path to utopia.

I continued my reading and have written some 300 essays and opinion pieces on this topic and related topics. At the core of nearly everything I write is some search for truth and some understanding of freedom and justice.

Socialism is the most cockeyed idea. It does not “work” in any actual sense. It has nearly zero economic grounding in reality. It tends to be a dream of people with big hearts and a limited grasp on reality. It has caused poverty, war, starvation, and general suffering throughout the world that would not have occurred if the shitty socialist government in question just folded up and went on permanent vacation, leaving people to their own devices.

Click here to keep reading The Importance Of Cordial Discussions

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.

Photo credit: comicsbulletin.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Footnote: The Hinlicky Rule


The Hinlicky Rule

September 25, 2017

Allan Stevo

The Hinlicky Rule was cited on this website in the article on Eating Sweet Potatoes, an article on Why Neo-Nazis March in Slovakia, and in the article on Slovak-Gypsy (Roma) Relations.

The Hinlicky Rule Goes:

“You shall not criticize the position of another…until you can state that position with such accuracy, completeness and sympathy, that the opponent himself declares, ‘Yes, I could not have said it better myself!‘ Then, and only then, may you criticize. For then you are engaging a real alternative and advancing a real argument. Otherwise you shed only heat, not light.”

Click here to keep reading Footnote: The Hinlicky Rule

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.

Photo credit: eerdmans.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Book Review: A 130 Page Joseph Campbell Book That Succinctly Ties Together Many Loose Strings

An Open Life

September 20, 2017

Allan Stevo
 

What it is:

In a series of interviews with radio personality Michael Toms, we get an important summary of the life discoveries and philosophies of 20th century scholar Joseph Campbell toward the end of his life in a succinct 130 pages.

A few interesting points:
 

1. Life’s Events Make Sense and It’s Important to Follow Your Bliss in the Process

While life’s events may seem so disconcerting in their lack of connectedness, the synchronicity of life eventually becomes so obvious as one looks back from an advanced age. While moving toward that point, it’s worthy of keeping in mind the following advice from Campbell who came of age during the Great Depression and saw several instances of family financial ruin: “If you follow your bliss, you’ll have your bliss, whether you have money or not. If you follow your money, you may lose the money, and then you don’t have even that.” Here’s Campbell explaining that at greater length.

Click here to keep reading Book Review: A 130 Page Joseph Campbell Book That Succinctly Ties Together Many Loose Strings

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.

Photo credit: pinterest.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Book Review: A 130 Page Joseph Campbell Book That Succinctly Ties Together Many Loose Strings

What Is The Essence Of Western Spirituality?

Western Spirituality

September 18, 2017

Allan Stevo

I came across an interview between Michael Toms and Joseph Campbell recently in the book (“An Open Life”) that had such powerful distillations of Campbell’s life philosophy and observations from a life spent studying world culture. In this excerpt, Campbell dismisses the idea of a westerner following a guru and points to a story from the series of legends known as the Quest for the Holy Grail. In one particular story, Campbell sees “the essence of what I’d call the European or Western spirituality.” I’d love to hear what you think of this in the comments section? Or perhaps you have a finding of your own that is more essential to Western spirituality.

Toms: “What about the desire to follow a guru? We see religions and cults based on the teacher-disciple relationship flourishing everywhere.”

Campbell: “I think that is bad news. I really do think you can take clues from teachers – I know you can. But, you see, the traditional Oriental idea is that the student should submit absolutely to the teacher. The guru actually assumes responsibility for the student’s moral life, and this is total giving. I don’t think that’s quite proper for a Western person. One of the big spiritual truths for the West is that each of us is a unique creature, and consequently has a unique path.

Click here to keep reading What Is The Essence Of Western Spirituality?

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.

Photo credit: elephantjournal.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What Is The Essence Of Western Spirituality?
  • join our mailing list
  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments on 52inSk.com