Vierka Petkovsky -

Slovak Christmas in Canada


Dinner was prepared earlier in the afternoon, so we could go to Christmas Eve service at church.  I liked going at night.  It was dark outside and inside, the lights were glowing and warm, and the tree was so big it almost touched the church ceiling.  They always used one colour of lights and one colour of glass balls to decorate; I thought it looked very elegant.  The icicles would flutter lightly when the heat from the vents blew at the tree, giving at an unearthly beauty.

 We would sing carols and listen to the minister preach, and the children always put on a program.  Sometimes we played out the nativity scene while reading out the bible passages.  Sometimes we just sang carols, recited poems and read the bible passages about Jesus' birth. 

By the time we got home and set the table for dinner, we were all starving!  When everyone was seated at the table, dressed in our fine clothes, a candle was lit.  I carried it into the dining room, set it on the table and said "Dobry Vecer" (Good Evening).  Then we blessed the meal, and drank a toast to welcome the baby Jesus (usually with homemade pear brandy, which was very sweet and I had a tiny bit, too).  Dinner was a traditional meal that started with my favourite a spicy sauerkraut soup in which homemade sausage was cooked, with beef tongue and hearts.  It was served with toasted bread cut into croutons.  I usually had 2 or 3 bowlfuls.  This was followed by the meat that was cooked in the soup, served with horseradish and canned cherries.  Then there were poppyseed noodles with honey.  The adults drank homemade red wine and I got some wine mixed with ginger ale a beverage I enjoy to this day, only now I mix more wine into the soda.

After eating, we would sing carols (songs out of the church hymnal).  Then, we would pass around a bowl of nuts.  Everyone had to close their eyes and pick out a walnut.  Each of us cracked our nut; if it was fresh and good, it meant the coming year would bring health and happiness.  If it was dry or spoiled, it meant illness or sorrow (we hardly ever had those kinds of nuts).  And finally, my grandfather would select a large apple from the bowl of fruit on the table.  He would cut it into pieces (one for each family member) and we would each eat a piece.  This symbolized togetherness and meant that we would all be together at this time next year.

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 Story and Photos © 1998 by V. Petkovsky - vpetkovsky@sprint.ca
All comments should be forwarded to Ondro Mihal at omihal@slovak.com.

All contents copyright © 1998.All rights reserved.
Revised: Dec 21, 1998