streda 31. marca 2010


Easter in Slovakia

Easter is the most significant Christian holiday. Because it is a moveable holiday, its date changes every year. Christians begin Easter celebration on Holy Thursday. Good Friday is a state holiday in Slovakia. While many people usually do not go to work, but stores and supermarkets are usually open.

On Good Friday, the day of abstinence, Christians commemorate the death of Jesus Christ. Then on Easter Sunday then celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ; however, not only Christians celebrate Easter

“Oblievacka” (water pouring) is a typical Easter Monday custom in Slovakia. The character of oblievacka slightly varies from region to region. On this day men visit their female relatives and friends and pour water on them or spray them with perfume, and whip them gently with special whips made of braided willow rods. According to tradition, pouring water on women will guarantee their beauty and good health throughout the year.

Recently oblievacka and sibacka (whipping) have not been as intense as they used to be in the past decades. In many regions, water buckets have been replaced with perfumes, a small syringe filled with water, a water cup, or a water pistol.


However, in some villages you may still see young men, sometimes riding on the horses or dressed in traditional folk costumes, who come with rattles and braided whips decorated with colorful ribbons. They may take females out of the houses and douse them with a bucket or buckets filled with cold water.
During this tradition men may sing songs and play the accordion.

After oblievacka and sibacka, women reward men with sweets, fruit, money, or painted Easter eggs. Easter eggs or kraslice are quite popular in Slovak tradition. Kraslice are painted, dyed, or otherwise decorated blown eggs. Many decorate kraslice at home or buy them at market or at the craft store. While it is not required to give Easter eggs to visiting males on Easter Monday, only a few men will leave the house without a drink or small refreshment. 

pondelok 29. marca 2010

First day of Passover

Did you know that
Passover begins today - on the 15th day of Nisan, the first month in the ecclesiastical year of the Hebrew calendar and lasts for seven or eight days. It usually falls in April of the Gregorian calendar.
During Passover, Jewish people commemorate the liberation from slavery and the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, as told in the Haggadah (or Haggada). These events took place around 3000 years ago.
During Passover,  are forbidden to eat, drink or own chametz or chometz. Chametz is any food, which is made from grain (barley, oats, rye, spelt or wheat) and water and has been allowed to rise. This means that they have to clean thoroughly all rooms in their homes and other spaces that they own or use to remove every last crumb of chametz. Any objects, which cannot be cleaned or destroyed before the start of Passover need to be stored in a sealed cupboard or room and sold to someone who is not Jewish. They are then purchased back after the end of Passover. Just before of Passover, children ritually search their houses for any remaining scraps of chametz.

In Israel, Passover lasts for seven days, but in other countries people may observe it for seven or eight days. The first and last day (or two days in some countries outside Israel), are particularly important. People recite special blessings or prayers, make a particular effort to visit a synagogue or listen to readings from the Torah and eat a ceremonial meal. Readings of the Haggadah, the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery and their exodus from Egypt are particularly important. The center of the ceremonial meal is the Seder Plate and red wine or red grape juice. Each food has a special meaning in relation to the Passover story.

The story about the origin of Passover is widely known as it is also the story of the life of Moses. For a time, the Israelites lived in peace and prosperity amongst the Egyptians until a new Pharaoh saw them as a threat to his power. He enslaved the Israelites and ordered all their sons to be killed at birth to prevent a new leader from arising.

According to the story of Moses, one mother was able to conceal the birth of her son Moses. When she could no longer hide him, she laid him amongst the bulrushes and asked one of her daughters to watch him. After a short time, the Pharaoh's daughter noticed him and decided to adopt him. She sent Moses' sister to find an Israelite woman to nurse him so he was 'reunited' with his mother. When Moses was older, he moved into the palace where the Pharaoh's daughter raised him as if he was her son.

As a young man, Moses noticed the suffering of the Israelites and left Egypt to become a shepherd. God appeared to him one day in the form of a burning bush and commanded him to return to Egypt to lead his people into freedom with the help of Moses' brother Aaron. Although Moses and Aaron repeatedly begged the Pharaoh to free the children of Israel, they were not successful. As a punishment, God inflicted 10 plagues on the Egyptians. After the 10th plague, in which all first-born children of the Egyptians died, the Pharaoh agreed to free all Israelites and to allow them to leave Egypt with their possessions. As they had to leave in a hurry, they did not have time to allow bread to rise, so they baked unleavened bread, known as matzoh (plural matzah), for the journey.

Passover is related to the Christian Easter and the Islamic Day of Ashura.