Friday, January 2, 2009
Christmas in Slovakia
This year I celebrated my first Slovak Christmas. Last year, I went with Katka to Paris for the holiday, which was super fun, but this year it was nice to stay in Bratislava and be with "family." I spent Christmas with my Slovak family, the Kriska fam, whom I'm incredibly thankful to have in my life here. I first met them in 2005, when I moved in with them for the whole summer. I had no idea then that they would become an integral part of my life, and love looking back at how God has worked through these relationships. Especially my relationship with Noemi. She has definitely become the little sister that I never had. Anyhow, I could keep going, but I'll stop. Basically, just know that this family rocks and are part of what makes my life here in Slovakia so beautiful.
SO, Slovaks do a few things differently at Christmas than we do in the States. For example, their main celebration is on the 24th of December, not the 25th, and many consider this Christmas day. Also, their traditional meal on this day consists of fish - more specifically, carp - and potato salad. As an appetizer to this meal, they eat honey and fresh garlic on top of a big piece of wafer (kind of like Baptist communion wafers). This is for hopes that the next year will be sweet (honey) and healthy (garlic). It wasn't so nasty as one would think, but I didn't go back for seconds. However, the tradition with the carp has to be my favorite. They'll buy the fish, living I might add, a few days before they intend to eat it, and will keep it swimming around in the bathtub until cooking time. This is to insure it is as fresh as possible. I'm bummed that I didn't get a picture of the fishies hanging out in the tub for you, but they were already in the fryer when I arrived on Christmas eve. Sorry to disappoint.
However, I did get plenty of other pics from the night! So here you have it,
The Feast... and you can see some of those carp bones on Noemi's plate. Poor little guys didn't even see it coming.
The Kriskova women checking out Noemi's Christmas gift from her boyfriend:
Isn't Grandma Kriskova (or as they call her, babushka) just too cute?
Tomas sharing some wisdom with me, Jakub, and Noemi:
Gimme those tasty Christmas treats!!
Jakub is amazing on the piano. One of my highs that night was just sitting there in a food induced coma listening to him play.
Ester and I. You have no idea how hospitable this woman is.
That night I stayed at their home, intending to go to church with them the next morning. Unfortunately I woke up with a nasty cold and was instructed to take some meds and get back in bed. When I woke up a few hours later, a full spread of breakfast was prepared and waiting for me right beside my bed. It included orange juice, hot tea, a freshly peeled orange, and a stack of blueberry pancakes - which don't really exist here in SK. The night before Ester had been asking me if we had any special breakfast on Christmas day, and I told her that sometimes we had pancakes, and just mentioned that my mom made some mean blueberry pancakes. That Ester is sneaky! And I don't know how she made that happen - I'm telling you, you can't find pancake mix over here - but the whole thing was truly one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me. So, although far from home this Christmas, God certainly made sure that I felt very loved. And I did.