Traditions: finding the balance between the past and the future (October 2015 photos)
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.
The ubiquitous orange binder twine.
That old stuff. It’s true, my romantic ideas don’t quite line up with my
laziness desire for comfort. I’ve tedded (turned over) a field of hay with a pitchfork under the burning sun, watching with longing the neighbour zipping through the hay rows with a tractor and a tedder.
There is a fine line, a balance, between preserving our cultures and traditions and not romanticising them. Keeping the best of the past and retaining the best of progress.
And you can love and hate something at the same time. I love that with technology, I can keep in touch with family and friends an ocean away. That my kids can talk to and even see my family. But I hate that our phones have become our world, that I get sucked into a black hole that absorbs more time than I want it to.
Folklore is, fortunately, a tradition that is enjoying a surge in popularity in Slovakia. Each area has its own songs, its own dress, its own style of dance.
But keeping a culture alive takes time, in this hurry-hurry-hurry environment we live in. I doubt that eyelet fabric was made by hand, because who has time for that? Even without that, there are practices to go to, costumes to piece together from here and there (one of those girl’s traditional dresses, for a complete set with boots, would cost 500 euro brand new!!), instruments to practice.
And then there are traditions that don’t seem so obvious. Like November 1 (new photos coming next month). Like zabijačka, pig butchering and the food made from it. Like children’s fire fighting competitions.
So keep your progress, keep your phones and tractors and tedders. Just keep tradition alive as well, getting off the hamster wheel for a moment to appreciate the culture you have or want to create. And, in particular to Slovakia and Slovaks, don’t be in such a rush to catch up to the West that you leave behind your own uniqueness, history, and culture.
(Take time too to, if not to smell the roses, then to go for a walk in glorious fall colours.)
What traditions do you appreciate, wherever you live?
Nov 10, 2015 @ 15:54:41
Wonderful post Naomi! I love how you delve into the richness of culture. You allow us over here in Canada to have a real taste of Slovakian life through your photos and well written posts.
Love the fall colour pics too! Makes me want to jump into that pathway and meander slow along the path of leaves.
Nov 10, 2015 @ 23:12:23
Aw, thanks! Fall is such a beautiful time of year.
Nov 10, 2015 @ 18:04:56
Am enjoying each glimpse of your life in Slovakia so very much! And I love, love, love the folk dances and festivals, rich in the traditions of Slovakia and each region.
Nov 10, 2015 @ 23:13:03
You have good taste 😉
Nov 10, 2015 @ 18:36:42
Lovely pictures! These are the parts I miss about Europe. Thanks for sharing. I too love looking at ‘old junk’. 🙂
Nov 10, 2015 @ 23:14:05
Glad you enjoyed! There is certainly a lot of ‘old stuff’ in Europe.
Nov 10, 2015 @ 19:40:49
Thank you – I so agree with the above two posts and appreciate your love of and sharing such an interesting culture. The pictures of the fall leaves remind me of those hidden paths deep in Vancouver’s Stanley Park (which I miss). You take such beautiful photos too 🙂 .
Nov 11, 2015 @ 00:29:54
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed them. Vancouver is a lovely place (Kamloops certainly is a lot drier).
Nov 14, 2015 @ 18:21:46
Hi Naomi, My daughter suggested your site to me. I’m loving your stories and photos! I grew up in Presov, but my family moved to B.C. when I was 9. I now live in the U.S. I’ve always missed life in Slovakia, especially the extended family, food, folk music and traditions. Your stories bring back heart warming memories and are so close to my experiences that I smile while reading. I just returned from Slovakia, having experienced the love and generosity of my aunts, uncles and cousins. What a wonderful and vibrant country! So glad you are experiencing raising your children there. Please keep your wonderful writing and photography going Naomi. You have a great talent for both! Thank you, Terezia
Nov 15, 2015 @ 22:39:03
I’m so glad she suggested it to you and that you enjoyed it 🙂 How lovely that you are able to come back to family for a dose of Slovakia. Whereabouts did you live in BC? Thank you so much for your kind words.
Nov 16, 2015 @ 17:21:12
In Vancouver, attended the Sts Cyril and Methodius Church (New Westminster) growing up. The Slovak community is quite vibrant there, with a priest from Slovakia and even a Slovak dance group ‘Slavik’. Have a great week:)
Nov 15, 2015 @ 02:42:23
The children look very nice in their traditional attires and I wonder what they are so engrossed in. I, too, believe that tradition should be kept alive and passed on to generations to come. It’s not a tradition per se, but one thing that pains my heart is the way my generation seems to think that their children should not speak Zambian but only use English. It is a shame to see the kids having to use English with grandparents who can hardly understand or speak the language. So, I say keep on upholding the traditions in your adopted home.
Nov 15, 2015 @ 22:44:39
I wish I could come and convince all those parents to keep speaking Zambian!! I am sad just thinking about it. Language carries with it a way of thinking, that line of traditions and history and culture that is meant to continue uninterrupted from generation to generation. Even though I am only half Japanese, I feel like I missed out on so much not being able to communicate in Japanese, links to family and culture. Children just soak up languages and can handle being bilingual without a problem, perhaps if Zambian parents want their children to learn English (as Slovak parents do) they can teach both languages, for example one parent can speak Zambian to the children and the other parent English. What a tragic loss it wll be if the coming generation no longer knows their own language.
Nov 21, 2015 @ 20:33:18
Love the photos in this post, and your thoughts on tradition and culture. BTW, enjoyed your podcasts, listened to them while prepping dinner over a couple of days.
Nov 23, 2015 @ 10:03:02
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the podcasts.
Dec 07, 2015 @ 17:58:29
What a beautiful post! Love the message and totally agree. We don’t have very many traditional things here but I told my daughter yesterday that we will continue to knit and sew and craft and pass it down. Keep it alive…making things with our hands. love this!
Dec 10, 2015 @ 03:11:24
Thank you! Yes, I agree, handmade items need to be kept being made and loved and used!
May 21, 2017 @ 08:56:25
Naomi: My mother (deceased) was born in Slovakia (Zliechov) & came to US when she was 3 yrs. old. I was wondering what is Zambian language. Mom made kolaches, strudels and several other dishes from there. I have my grandmother’s outfit she made in Slovakia back in the late 1800’s where she made the cloth, beautiful embroidery and hand-pleated skirt. I have donated it to museum. I enjoy your writings.
May 23, 2017 @ 08:45:43
Hi Joyce, thank you, I’m glad you enjoy the writings. Your grandmother’s outfit sounds so beautiful, a work of love for sure. Do you still know how to make the dishes your mom made? I’m not sure what you mean by what is Zambian language…other than the language spoken in the African country of Zambia.
May 23, 2017 @ 09:11:21
Thank you for the comments. I make some of the dishes my mom made, but not like my mom. Do you know if the Czech language is the same as the Slovakian language? I was born in West, McLennan County, Texas, a little Czech town.
May 23, 2017 @ 20:56:55
Czech and Slovak are similar but different. The verbs are more or less the same, but the nouns can be very different and not at all related. I would say that all Slovaks understand Czech (at least from about 30 years old and older), more so than the other way around as there are more books/movies available in Czech due to being a bigger population, for example, Slovak kids watching cartoon in Czech.