Slovakia has maintained longstanding Christmas customs and traditions, and over the years, the beliefs have been passed to the next generation. If you are planning to spend your Christmas in Europe, then you should consider visiting Slovakia.

The people in the country are friendly and welcoming and during this period, you are going to learn the customs of the locals, enjoy local cuisine as well as explore the Christmas markets.

Christmas celebrations in Slovakia usually kick off on 24 December and this goes on through the 25th with the feast of nativity.  It is very interesting to see how people in different parts of the world usually celebrate Christmas, and today we will learn more about Slovakia.

Christmas customs and traditions in Slovakia

People usually prepare for Christmas festivities throughout the month of December and during this period; you are going to find that there are numerous activities taking place as everybody is preparing himself or herself for the big occasion. The festivities begin four weeks before Christmas and this is a period commonly called the advent. Here are some of the common Christmas customs and traditions that you are going to find in Slovakia.

Advent Period

Advent period in Slovakia is a time of preparations for the blissful Christmas.

Perhaps this is one of the most fundamental things when it comes to Christmas celebrations in Slovakia. The period usually carries the message of anticipation of the birth of Jesus and people will often go to church and prepare gifts for their loved ones.

In most parts of Slovakia, people begin decorating their houses, business premises, and even churches. Advent is a period of four weeks before Christmas and the people will prepare spiritually and physically as well. In the past, the period was associated with spiritual preparation for one of the biggest celebrations, the Nativity of the Lord.

However, in modern times you will find people preparing in all manners. The Advent period is often associated with the Advent wreath and the Advent calendar.

Advent wreath

The traditional Slovak advent wreath is made up of four candles and these candles are usually made at home or they are bought in stores. During this process, the families will lay the advent wreath and light one candle each Sunday before Christmas. The last candle is usually lit on the last Sunday before Christmas.

In the southern parts of Slovakia, many people tend to use red candles and pink candles. In other areas, the candles are all red. The color is not a major determinant, but the symbolic value of the candle is, as it usually represents the people who were waiting for the birth of Jesus.

Advent calendar

This is another important aspect of the Slovak Christmas traditions. The advent calendar is produced earlier in December or late November. During this period, the children or young adults who bought the candle will open the calendar every day until Christmas.

The calendar for the children usually has gifts and the parents will have to buy the gifts indicated on the calendar. The advent calendar is known to have twenty-four windows, and this is from December 1st through December 24th. All the dates usually have some small gifts, and, in most cases, you will find that they have sweets, chocolates, or candies.

The children will open the calendar each day as they count the days until Christmas Day, which is the last window on the calendar. This custom is very popular across Slovakia, as it can be a thrilling experience not knowing what the next day could present.

Christmas Eve in Slovakia

Christmas Eve in Slovakia has some very unique customs and traditions. These customs have been observed for centuries and it are still observed today. The traditions form an integral part of the Slovak culture, and these traditions usually vary from one region to another.

However, most of them are based on Christian values although some areas still observe pagan winter solstice celebrations. Here are some of the activities that take place on Christmas Eve.

Christmas tree decoration in Slovakia

The Christmas tree is an important part of the Slovak Christmas celebrations. It is usually sought in the forest, especially for the people who live in rural areas. The eldest male member of the household will lead other men to the forest where they are going to find a perfect Christmas tree.

The trees commonly used during this period are spruce and fir. You will find that almost every Slovak family has a decorated Christmas tree during this period. There are also public squares and buildings that have a Christmas tree, and the decoration is usually done on Christmas Eve.

Young children across the country usually believe that baby Jesus will bring those gifts during the Christmas period. During the decoration of the Christmas tree, the parents will often put gifts under the tree for them to find on Christmas day. The joy of the children finding their presents under the Christmas tree is incredible.

Peace Light of Bethlehem

This is another important tradition in the Slovak culture, and it is more common during the Christmas period. The Peace of Light has been spread across the country since the ’90s by the Slovak scouts and the main aim of the message is for people to unite, family, and friends during the Christmas period.

Scouts usually carry out these messages and they bring consecrated peace of light directly from Bethlehem to Slovakia. On Christmas Eve, people will go to church for the light and they bring it to their homes as a symbol of human unity and peace. The light is often shared with neighbors. When the young people bring the light, they will share it with the elderly or people who are unable to go get it.

The Catholics in the country will often to a church mass on Christmas Eve and this mass lasts until midnight. It is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. You will find that Christmas candles are lit all over the house to indicate the arrival of baby Jesus.

Christmas Eve dinner

This is the part where the Christmas feast begins and it is a perfect time that you can interact with the people as you see the Slovak Christmas traditions and culture in place. The people who are fasting on Christmas Eve, usually break the fast upon sight of the first star in the evening.

The children will wait to see the gold star and they can begin their celebration by eating. It is more common for people to prepare dinner during the day. The folk customs about Christmas Eve vary from one region to another. 

Perhaps one of the most common traditions is that the whole family will stand before Christmas dinner, make a prayer, and eat dinner together. It is a perfect time for friends and family to bond.

The Christmas Eve dinner is made up of several courses. However, there is a common identical dish that you will find across the country, and these are Christmas waffles. Christmas waffles are commonly made on Christmas Eve, and you will find many people across the country enjoying it with honey.

After the people have eaten the Christmas waffles, they will eat a dish based on sweet poppy seed, a bread dessert called Pupáky. Christmas soups are a major specialty in Slovakia and at almost every table in the country, you will find all kinds of soups.

The halaszle is the most common soup in southern Slovakia. The main course of Christmas Eve dinner is potato salad and fish. Carp is the most traditional fish consumed in the region and some parts; you will find that they eat salmon.

In the western part of the country, cakes can never be missed, and you will find Štedrák, which is mostly baked during Christmas. It is common for the family to place money under the table, and they believe that they will have enough money throughout the year.

Christmas dinner in Slovakia

The country has a variety of dishes often served during the Christmas period. The supper will vary from family to family and from one region to another. However, these are common dishes that are eaten across the country.

Christmas carp and potato salad is the most common dish that is eaten across the country. You will find that there are places where people enjoy kapustnica or sauerkraut soup with dried mushrooms, sage, and cream.

The recipes might vary from one area to another; however, they are all exceptional. Poppy seed dumplings are more common during this period. Gingerbread is also very common in different parts of Slovakia. The family will make over ten different sweets, which are often served during the Christmas period.

According to the Slovak traditions, each family member is required to eat a garlic clove to ensure good health and they will make a cross using honey to ensure abundance. There is a common tradition of cutting apples and if the seeds form a star, then it symbolizes good health and happiness.  

During the Christmas dinner, there is always an extra plate that is left for a visitor or the spirits of the departed to celebrate Christmas as well. There are places where you will find that figurines are made from water and flour, and it is believed that this would make the people prosperous in the coming year.

Activities after Christmas supper in Slovakia

It is a common tradition in Slovakia that after the people have eaten dinner, they will then exchange gifts. Christmas Day and 26th are some of the calm and quiet days because people will take their time to spend with their families. It is also a time for visiting friends and opening gifts.

The children will often find their presents under the Christmas tree, and it is customary for them to sing as they open the gifts. It is a perfect time for people to bond and have fun together.

Watching movies for Christmas

It is common in Slovakia that there are different movies and series running over the Christmas period. This is a time when families can watch their favorite movies and enjoy their Christmas period. The movies are usually themed around the Christmas spirit, and you will see them running on local television channels.

In conclusion, the Christmas holidays in Slovakia are some of the most exceptional times of the year and you can join in the celebration learn the local traditions, and sample the local dishes. You can visit Christmas markets as well to get a glimpse of how active life has become in the region.

Let’s check out how the Christmas is celebrated in the neighboring countries as well:

Aurimas Bio

Hi there! I’m Aurimas, a man behind Go Look Explore. I’m passionate about hiking, exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, and everything outdoors related. Let’s connect.