No other European country has as strong and diverse folk traditions as Slovakia. Not surprising, considering that Slovakia has been at the crossroads of both traders and invaders for millennia – bringing goods and ideas from many other cultures and stimulating creativity in the making of everyday objects, entertainment and celebrations.
Helping to keep colorful local traditions alive is the mountainous terrain, which isolated and insulated communities from each other and the homogenizing influences of cultural “progress”. People in some Slovak villages wore folk costumes until the mid-20th century – both to preserve tradition and as a sign of resistance. While the country is now firmly in the 21st century, Slovaks take great pride in the distinctive music, dance, handicrafts and folklore that have been handed down through the generations.
Come and see it in museums, like the one-of-a-kind tinkers’ exhibit of figures made out of metal wire in Zilina’s Povazie Museum. Or the glittering icons and painted Easter eggs produced by the Rusyn/Ruthenian people of Eastern Slovakia showcased in Bardejov’s Saris museum. You can also shop for exquisite items made by contemporary artisans to bring home.
Step back in time at any of 10 “open-air” architectural museums where peasant houses, churches and other structures from centuries ago – all reflecting building traditions of a particular region and/or ethnic group — have been assembled and preserved.
Attend a performance of folk dance or music regularly given in Bratislava. Or at one of the many folk festivals held all around the country.
If folk things interest you, keep a lookout for the words “ethnography” or “ethnographic museum” – that’s the term used to denote everything related to folk traditions.