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Volume 10, No. 1, Spring 2002

Slovak Heritage Live
A newsletter of the
Slovak Heritage and Cultural Society of British Columbia
published four times a year

Fall issue was published in April 2002 and it was mailed to 1500 recipients world wide. 

Last supper from the altar in Spišská Sobota by master Pavol from Levoča

Yes you read right on the title page, this is the 10th Anniversary issue. 10 years, 40 issues and 552 pages later we are still here. However the ride has not been a smooth one. It has been rough many times as we constantly struggle with lack of funds. It is partly due to the fact that only few of you are renewing your memberships on time and most of you are constantly late or just stay on for a free ride and not pay at all. Over the years we have deleted hundreds of people form our mailing list for failing to pay their dues. It would be so nice if our printer would print the newsletter for free and binding company would collate it for free as well and if the post office would deliver it for free, it would be so nice, but it will never happen. The reality is that we are always short of funds as there simple isn’t enough coming in to pay for printing, collating and mail from the memberships that are coming in, mostly very late and overdue. So if you think the newsletter is a worth while investment, please invest in your heritage and renew on time, perhaps early, perhaps for more than one year, perhaps you could enclose some mega bucks donations, you know it wouldn’t hurt us at all. We will accept all donations does not matter how ridiculously large they may be.  It would allow us the breath easier and I wouldn’t have to finance every issue time and time again. If everyone paid their memberships on time, we wouldn’t be having any problems at all...
Our web pages are doing fantastic, getting around 150000 hits per month and the top twenty visiting countries in January were: United States, Slovak Republic, Canada, Netherlands, Great Britain, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Belgium, Japan, Hungary, Australia, Austria, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, France, Finland, Romania and Brazil...

Read the correspondence received from our members...

Just recently I received by mail two letters from the most famous of Slovak Chameleons - a man of many coats and colors an official letter informing me and our Slovak Heritage and Cultural Society of British Columbia that he is now the official representative in the Slovak government for the Slovaks living abroad. Third information came by email on the same thing. They are wasting taxpayers’ money in big way as simple email would cost them nothing and it would be enough. You ask who could this Claude Baláž be? A man who has been making his living off Slovaks living abroad for the last 20 years in various posts and positions, lastly as the head of House of Foreign Slovaks where out of the total budget of 17 Million Crowns, 11 Million were spent on internal affairs and his office and only 2 Million supposedly went to any projects or activities dealing with Slovaks living abroad. But getting back to his letter, he referred to his new post as the “unofficial small Foreign Affairs ministry for Slovaks living abroad.”...

With the arrival of spring, those Slovak organizations that have been working on the Exhibit, are at the end of their almost two years of effort in preparations.  The Exhibit goes on display at the National Museum in Bratislava, Slovakia on July 4, 2002, for 2 months.  It will encompass almost 120 years worth of history, literature, organizational and religious activity of the Slovaks in Canada, starting in the 1880’s and ending in the present day.  It is supported and financed by many of the Slovak organizations in Canada, working together. This means that the exhibit will show a cross section of Slovak Canadian life from every aspect of this society, from the mines of British Columbia, to the farmers of the Prairies, Thunder Bay in the north, to the Slovaks in Montreal…

The first year all Slovakia’s festival became a reality on November 17, 2001 in the House of Culture in Brezno. The zero year of this festival to honor and named after tragically passed away heligonkár from Brezno Milan Podstavenka was initiated last year by his personal friend and colleague Paul Berčík and his brother Peter, soloist of folklore group Mostár-Brezno in play on accordion, mouth harmonika and well known as photographer. Success of last year’s get together of heligonkár’s stimulated the Berčík’s brothers so much that they didn’t give up their ambition to organize additional year ion festival level with participants from all around Slovakia. This year Ján Weis an ethnographer and also heligonkár and director of the Museum in Brezno took part in organizing and in dramaturgy...

Zborov castle is located in eastern part of Slovakia, north east of Bardejov above town Zborov in the Šariš region. This royal castle is located on the forested hill south of village Zborov at an elevation of 1422 feet. It also used to be called Makovica. The castle was built shortly after 1317. It was a border King’s castle in the northern part of Hungarian-Polish road north of Bardejov. At the beginning it wasn’t very large...


The Courtyard of Crafts (Dvor remesiel) is an organic part of ÚĽUV. It is situated in the courtyard of ÚĽUV’s headquarters at Obchodná 64, in historical building, located directly in the center of Bratislava. The courtyard is a former winegrower’s house, dating to the 17th-18th century in a neighborhood that was previously called Schöndorf. It is now a place of active tranquility in the town centre offering a rural atmosphere. It was opened to the public on 1 July 1999...

While visiting my friend Martin Mešša who now works for UĽUV I wandered through the Courtyard of Crafts. I was always intrigued with tinker’s craft especially making things with wire. In a tidy tinker’s workshop I met Martina Fintor, an absolvent of Fine Arts College in Bratislava. She teaches wire crafts on daily basis to interested parties children and adults. From her you will learn how to make wire baskets, hangers, kitchen utensils, jewelry, Easter eggs, wire wrapping bottles and also my favorite wrapping flat rocks and making hanging fish out of them. Martina is very methodical and in about an hour I created my firs ever hanging wire fish. Anything and everything you create, you can take home with you...

The term Shrovetide, signs the entire period lasting from the Three Kings to Ash Wednesday, although the majority of custom expressions are concentrated into the last days, which are called “bláznivé dni” (crazy days), “ostatky, mjesopust and mjasnica.” The name itself is derived from the German word “Vjrschang” and in its original language signs the last days before Lent.
Shrovetide makes a transition between winter and spring. Customs, related to it, do not create a unified whole, but they include more levels. We can find in them genetic connection to the pan-European agrarian prosperity ceremonies of the pre-spring period, with residuals of agrarian cult and cult of ancestors, but also connections to the Middle Aged carnival town culture, which followed up the buoyancy of Ancient festivals. The Middle Aged town carnival elements affected in a later period, mainly the craftsmanship festivals. Diversified forms of competitive games, which remain a principle of the Knight’s tournaments, give evidence of that. In Shrovetide customs of the peasant population of all Slavic nations, the principle of fighting and competitive games occurs only seldom. In other European cultures, elements of competitiveness between two groups, represents one of basic expressions of symbols of the transitional period between winter and spring...

The complex of spring and summer time customs, is defined in time by the period from pre-Easter lent until the harvest festival and it is connected to events like Death and Flower Sunday, Easter week, St. George’s day, The First of May, Whitsuntide, St. John’s day. Spring time customs were focused on the positive influences of expected changes in nature, then on ensuring prosperity before the beginning of spring works and finally on protection of vegetation and ensuring the expected harvest. They were in a different range connected to farming works. They have a collective and also an individual character. The main ceremonial subjects were represented by different forms of verdure, which represents a principle of waking up nature and the life force, an egg symbol of natural and life circle, and water symbol of purity and health...

In spite of the fact that the Easter festival is the most important religious festival of the year, consecrated to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it has not achieved such a richness of custom forms as Christmas. Easter customs belong among the transitional ceremonies.
The Easter festival included the whole range of acts, which had a direct connection to peasant work, also ritual orders and prohibitions, which limited people's behavior during the ceremonial time of festival, as well as church ceremonies, which Christianity took over from older religious rituals.
In a church, catkins were blessed on the Flower Sunday, and they were stored and given to sewing, used for medical treatment, placed onto fields, and cattle during the first spring pasture were incensed with them. A special power was ascribed to water. From the Green Thursday until the White Sunday, there was frequent washing in a river before sunrise, hair making under the willows, as well as watering horses. Blessed Big Friday’s water was used to pour on the house, out buildings and farm animals. Water was connected to the concept of new life. Success of ceremonies was related to ritual purity of the performers and of the whole surroundings. Insects were driven out of houses with rattles, which children used for rattling around the village from the Green Thursday till the White Sunday, when bells in churches were tied up...

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Copyright © Vladimir Linder 2002 
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied, reproduced, republished, or redistributed by any means including electronic, without the express written permission of Vladimir Linder. All rights reserved.