HOLIDAYS
January 1 celebrates not only the New Year, but also the creation of the independent Slovak Republic in 1993. It is a day filled with national and family festivities.

Easter, which falls in March or April, is the most important day in the Catholic calendar. Many Slovaks observe the forty days of Lent before Easter by giving up something, such as a favourite food, to show their devotion to Christ. They also follow the tradition of painting Easter eggs, called kraslice. Some Easter customs come from pre-Christian spring festivals. In some regions, young men weave willow twigs and gently whip girls with them. They may also drench girls with buckets of water.

May Day is International Labour Day. During the Communist regime, it was a day of parades. Today, in some villages, folk traditions have been revived and May Day has become a celebration of springtime and lovers. Some young men bring decorated maypoles to the doorstep of their sweethearts as a sign of their affection.

The Slovak National Uprising in 1944 against the Nazi German government is commemorated on August 29. It is a day to remember those who have fallen in war. 

  Did you know?
The most famous folk festival is the Vychodná Folk Festival in the central part of the Slovak Republic. Visitors can see authentic folk costumes and dances throughout the summer.
The Virgin Mary of the Seven Sorrows is celebrated on September 15. The Virgin Mary is normally depicted with seven daggers in her heart, representing the seven sorrows she suffered for her son, Jesus Christ. These are: the prophecy of her son's death, the flight into Egypt, the loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple, the moment when Mary met Jesus carrying His Cross, the Crucifixion, Mary's acceptance of Jesus' body after the Crucifixion and Jesus' burial. It is a sad occasion, but one that teaches dignity and charity in the face of sadness.
On November 1, All Saints Day, Slovaks acknowledge the contribution of all the saints in the Catholic faith. People attend church and pray to a saint for help and protection.

 A Slovak Christmas is a festive event, which includes the preparation of a variety of special dishes. Gifts are exchanged and the tree is decorated on Christmas Eve. Slovaks light a candle at the dinner table to help the Wise Men find their way to the manger of the baby Jesus.

  Did you know?
During Christmas Eve dinner in the country, people save food for carol-singers and visitors. Peasants used to take a little of each Christmas dish and give it to the domestic animals.
January 1 New Year's Day, Independence Day
January 6  Epiphany
March or April Good Friday, Easter Monday
May 1 International Labour Day
July 5 Saints Cyril and Methodius
August 29 Slovak National Uprising of 1944
September 1 Constitution Day
September 15  The Virgin Mary of the Seven Sorrows
November 1 All Saints Day
December 24, 25 Christmas
December 26 St. Stephen's Day