Traditions: finding the balance between the past and the future (October 2015 photos)

Are traditions your garbage or your treasure? - Almost Bananas

As any reader of my blog will know, I’m a big fan of keeping traditions alive, whether a village, song and dance, or lighting candles in the night. So many people, however, seem to take these traditions for granted or consider them as unimportant.

I was taking pictures in the old shed behind my inlaws’, grinning that they would not understand my fascination. A shed of old junk, to them.

Treasures in an old shed - Almost Bananas

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Chata M.R.Štefánika: a chalet in the Low Tatra mountains

Chata M.R.Štefánika, a chalet in the Low Tatra (Nizke Tatry) mountains of Slovakia - Almost Bananas

Nestled in the side of the hill under Ďumbier, the highest mountain in the Low Tatra (Nizke Tatry) mountains, Chata Štefánika is full of charm, comfort, and convenience.

Last week we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary by going for the first overnighter since having kids (9 years). I’ve been wanting to hike in the Nizke Tatry for some time, so even though the weather forecast wasn’t promising, we went anyway.

The Low Tatras are the closest mountain range to the west high enough for a tree line, which was handy given that we only managed to drop the kids off by noon. We drove through to Bystrá, a hamlet where the road was very narrow and had no shoulder and often no sidewalk. From Bystrá we turned off the main road and drove up hill towards ski resorts. We parked at Trangoška and started to hike up the green trail (map at bottom of post).  Click to continue reading

Hody: the modern take on a religious medieval festival

Every town in Slovakia has 'hody'. Here's the modern take on a medieval festival - Almost Bananas

Every town, every church in fact, in Slovakia has a festival called ‘hody’. Each church is named/dedicated to a particular saint or feast, and when that annual feast day rolls around it’s party time. The consecration of the church coincided with finishing the building, so hody feasts are in the warmer month and full of food and fun. In my parents in law’s village, hody is in the fall and usually coincides with Jarmok in Trnava.

In the Catholic Church, if you attend Mass on the feast of the consecration of a church (as well as meeting a few other criteria) the person receives a plenary indulgence (in simple terms, related to the eternal state of your soul, so it’s important).

Traditionally, when it was hody in your parish, you invited extended family to come and gain eternal advantages. And then you had to feed said friends and family, so you prepare a feast.

And when there are all these extra people in a town, it’s a great time to sell things and go on carnival rides.

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Lendak, Slovakia: a mix of old and new


Lendak, Slovakia, a town that still carries on traditions in everyday life. - Almost Bananas

I’m so excited to share my favourite village in Slovakia with you. There are many other similar villages, I am sure, but this is the one that I know.

At the eastern end of the Vysoke Tatry (the High Tatra mountains) is a village, nestled between meadow covered hills, called Lendak. This is a place where many aspects of a traditional farming life are still lived, while also embracing modernity.

Farming in Slovakia is set up differently than I know. I am used to farms being spread out, surrounded by large tracts of land. The nearest neighbour is a good jaunt away and town is even farther.

In Slovakia, on the other hand, villagers live close together and the farming land surrounds the town. Each family has a part of the surrounding fields, but the land on which they live is narrow and can be quite small.

Lendak is the same. Many older pieces of land have, in the front, the original log house, usually consisting of two rooms, the kitchen and the living/bedroom. One woman told me she grew up in such a house and that she and her siblings were only ever inside on Sunday – the rest of the time was spent outside. Right behind, even attached, to the log house is a newer house, where one of the children lives with his/her family. And right behind that, some outbuilding, often a few animals and maybe a tractor.  Click to continue reading

August Photos: mostly from the road on our vacation

Vysoke Tatry in Slovakia - Almost Bananas

We had two weeks of holiday in August and the first week was spent at the end of the Vysoke Tatry, the highest mountain range in Slovakia. I’ve got a number of posts coming up about different places we saw coming soon (so sign up for the newsletter, if you haven’t already), this is random bits of what we saw on our journey.

Ruined Castle in Slovakia - Almost BananasThere are ruined castles all over Slovakia, tucked up on the hills. I find the ruined castles more romantic, in a way, that preserved castles. And so many times I wonder at how much work it must have taken to build these huge buildings, high on hills with not-modern technology and often in awkward places.  Click to continue reading

Cream of Zucchini Soup with Dill

Slovak Cream of Zuchinni Soup with Dill - Almost BananasThis super easy creamy soup is a delicious way to eat abundant zucchini, even for those who don’t like it!

I’m a terrible food blogger. I made this soup a while ago but didn’t write down how much of what I used (because I was going to remember, ha!) and then we went on holiday…and now it’s past dill season. But it will be dill season again, and you’ll have pinned this recipe to try then, right?

My mother in law makes this soup fairly often in the summer. Every year she claims she’s not going to plant as much zuchinni as last year, and every year she does.

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Kremnica, Slovakia: a town of gold

Kremnica, Slovakia - Almost Bananas

On our recent trip to the Vysoke Tatry (High Tatra mountains), we stopped in Kremnica, where one of the oldest permanently producing mint factories in the world is located.

Gold was discovered as early as the 8th century in the area and reached the peak of activity during the 14th to end of the 18th century. Due to mining and minting, Kremnica was a town of wealth and importance.

Settled in the hills, merely driving through Kremnica only shows the abundance of socialist-era built apartment buildings.  Upon entering the centre, one can immediately see the medieval fortifacations.

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A Slovak Party: lots and lots and lots of food

A Slovak Party with lots and lots of food

This last weekend my mother in law celebrated her 70th birthday. It was a big event, due to generous family sizes. We  set for 70 people, including children.

At a Slovak celebration, there must be about three times as much food planned as can actually be physically eaten, as my father found out at my own wedding. Before the ceremony, people gathered at the inlaws house for sandwiches, to sustain themselves through Mass. Afterwards, dinner was served and my father filled himself, thinking he had to last the rest of the night with that much food. Then the cakes and sweets came, and he made sure he didn’t miss out on those. A few hours later, to his surprise, came another meal. And, a few hours later, another. We only had three meals after the ceremony, the first brother to get married had the traditional five. Slovaks celebrate a wedding, however, till the late hours of the morning, usually finishing around 5 am. At our last family wedding, the great aunts and uncles, well into their 70’s, stayed until 3 am.  Click to continue reading

June 2015 Photos

I’m starting a new series with photos from the month that didn’t warrant a whole post but that I wanted to share anyway. I’ve shared some on Instagram but my new phone requires more work to put up a big camera photo, and therefore I get them up less.

This month I actually have photos since the end of April, so there are some spring ones in there as well.

Gaming, Austria
Sunrise on the former monastery in Gaming, Austria.

Mystery Flower
Despite looking like lilacs, these lilac coloured flowers were growing singly in my sister in law’s lawn. I have no idea what they are, but I saved them from the lawnmower.

Spring Leaves

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