Folk customs

Folk customs and traditions, which were carried out all year round, formed inseparable part of people´s life in Orava region.

Spring

When the spring rays of the sun come, it is a reviving period of nature. This period is connected with Easter in traditional folk culture. Performed folk customs would have secured good beginning of work on the fields, good health of people and farm animals. On Easter Monday there are some customs, when boys are pouring water on girls, saying good wishes to each other and there are some customs of giving presents. Painted Easter eggs and first spring twigs became typical symbols of spring period.

Summer

Summer customs started in May. The green of May was the symbol of strength of nature and good growth. Typical custom which has been preserved up to now is building of maypoles. It is a very high coniferous tree where the bark of the trunk is removed and the top rest of crown is decorated with coloured ribbons. The maypole was built by the young boy to the girl he was in love with. The maypole was also a common present of boys to all girls in the municipality. Then a May festival was usually organized there.

The day of summer solstice (21st of June – St. John´s Day) which is the longest day of the year, belongs to the custom of John´s fires. A day before that day, at night, big bonfires were lighted by youth, around which they enjoyed themselves. During the St. John´s Night people used to collect medicinal herbs which were believed to have magical curative power.

Autumn

Autumn was the period of harvest, feasts and fairs. The crop from the fields was taken down to granaries. When the farm year has been ended, it was a period of feasts. They started on Sunday, when people were gathering together to celebrate a patron to whom a local church was dedicated. The All Saints Day is a tradition we have observed up to now. Candles are lighted on graves. Flower decoration and wreaths on cemeteries is much modern tradition.

Winter

Custom which signified beginning of Advent is called Catherine´s party. People were preparing themselves for Christmas. Nativity scenes with Christmas carols is an inseparable part of Christmas and they form a great Christmas atmosphere. During the Three King´s Day boys used to walk around houses and wish „Happy New Year“ to everybody in the municipality.

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