Slovak holidays are based on the tradition and Slovak history. There are 14 days of public holidays in a year when Slovaks don’t have to go to work. This number is among the highests in the European Union. A lot more holidays apply for students.
1st of January, Emergence of Slovakia – In 1993 after the decision of political leaders, Czechoslovakia split into Czech Republic and Slovakia, but there was no conflict between the two regions. Since then, Slovakia as an independent and democratic state has a new flag with all its national symbols.
6th of January, Feast of the Epiphany – Three Kings, one of the oldest Christian holidays, is celebrated by many Christian churches in Slovakia and all around the world. This holiday is a reminder of a day when God revealed the stars of his son to all nations and of the arrival of the three wise men from the East to Bethlehem. They came to him to bow and bring small gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh. In the Catholic Church it is very important to celebrate Epiphany.
Good Friday (known as Holy Friday or Great Friday) – It commemorates the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and is celebrated on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday. This occasion is one of the days of strict Lent (40-day-long fasting before Easter).
Easter Monday – Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Tradition on Easter Monday is the same for everybody, the faithful and atheists, too. Boys and men traditionally pour a bucket of water on girls and women’s head to wake them and use their decorated handmade whips to slash them. Women reward them with Easter eggs, sweets or money.
1st of May, International Workers’ Day – It was declared as a public holiday after the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1919. Celebrations are to honor the spirit of the fight against unemployment and deterioration of the status quo for workers. In 1933 – 1938 the celebrations also reflected a protest against fascism and war.
8th of May, End of World War II. – It was declared a public holiday on 9th of May, 1945 by the supreme commander of the Red Army – Joseph Stalin, to celebrate the end of World War II.
5th of July, Memory of St. Cyril and St. Methodius – Brothers Cyril and Methodius compiled the Slavic alphabet and translated it into liturgical and biblical texts. They established several schools and training centers. One of the universities in Slovakia, in Trnava, is called Univerzita sv. Cyrila a Metoda (University of Sts. Cyril and Methodius).
29th of August, Slovak National Uprising – In 1944, it was the day when the Slovak National Uprising began. The uprising was organized by the Slovak resistance movement during World War 2. Its main goal was to defend the country against German occupation, but it was also an offense for the Jozef Tiso government.
1st of September, Day of the Constitution of the Slovak Republic – Sometimes called as Constitution Day. The Constitution of Slovakia was passed by the Slovak National Council on 1st of September 1992 and signed on 3rd of September 1992 in the Knights Hall of the Bratislava Castle.
15th of September, Day of Our Lady of Sorrows – It is celebrated by Slovaks and the Catholic Church. In 1727, Pope Benedict XIII declared Our Lady of Sorrows to be respected by the Church and its members as a Patron of Slovakia and later in 1966 was declared by Pope Paul VI as the main Patron.
1st of November, All Saints’ Day – It is a holiday of the Roman Catholic Church celebrating the saints since it is impossible to celebrate them every day. Therefore, Pope Gregory III, and later Pope Gregory IV, declared 1st of November as a holiday for the consecration of the Roman Pantheon into the Christian church, as a dedication to all the saints.
17th of November, Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day – This day reminds Slovaks about the student demonstration against Nazi occupation in 1933. It also commemorates the demonstration in Prague in 1989 which was the beginning of the Velvet Revolution. It is one the most important days in modern Slovak history. It symbolizes the beginning of the radical transformation in each of the spheres of Slovak society.
24th of December, Christmas Eve – In the Middle Ages it was the last day of the year. The New Year began on the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, which was on the 25th of December.
Christmas Eve is Slovak favorite holiday, not only for the exchange of presents, but more importantly, it is a day where families can spend quality time together. They’d enjoy a supper that consists of soup, mostly prepared from a cabbage, and a fish with potato salad as the main course.
25th of December, Christmas Day – Christmas marks the day of the birth of Jesus. This holiday plays a major role in the Roman Church. Since the Reformation, Christmas is celebrated one day in advance. That means it’s on Christmas Eve, but the 25th and 26th of December are also days of worship.
Remembrance/Commemoration Days in Slovakia are working days.
25th of March, Day of Struggle for Human Rights – Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December, in Slovakia it is 25th of March. It commemorates the Candle demonstration in Bratislava – on 25th of March 1988 it was the first mass demonstration of the 1980s against the communist regime in Czechoslovakia.
13th of April, Day of Unfairly Prosecuted Persons – Male monasteries were dissolved and friars were interned in Communist Czechoslovakia.
4th of May, Anniversary of the Decease of Milan Rastislav Štefánik – In 1919 the Slovak co-founder of Czechoslovakia died in an aeroplane accident under unexplained circumstances.
7th of June, Anniversary of the Memorandum of the Slovak Nation – Memorandum of the Slovak Nation was a document of Slovak state, political and cultural requirements adopted by the Slovak National Council on 6th-7th of June 1861 in Martin. The author of the memorandum was Štefan Marko Daxner.
5th of July, Day of Slovaks Living Abroad – At the same time it is the St.Cyril and Methodius Day.
17th of July, Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of the Slovak Republic – Declared on 17th of July 1992.
4th of August, Matica Slovenská Day – Matica Slovenská is a main Slovak cultural institution founded in 1863.
9th of September, Day of the Victims of Holocaust and of Racial Violence – In the WWII (1939-1945) Slovakia, under the government of Jozef Tiso, issued the Jewish Code. Jews in Slovakia could not own any real estate or luxury goods, were excluded from public jobs and free occupations, could not participate in sport or cultural events, were excluded from secondary schools and universities, and were required to wear the star of David in public.
19th of September, Day of the First Public Appearance of the Slovak National Council – The Slovak National Council was a kind of predecessor of the present Slovak parliament. It was created on 15th of September 1848 and on 19th of September initiated the Slovak Volunteer Campaigns of 1848/1849.
6th of October, Day of Dukla Pass Victims – The passage of this pass was an important step in the liberation of Czechoslovakia during the WWII.
27th of October, Day of Černová Tragedy – The Černová tragedy was a shooting that happened in Csernova (today Černová, part of Ružomberok) on 27th of October 1907.
28th of October, Day of the Establishment of an Independent Czecho-Slovak State – Peace Agreements in Paris on 28th of October in 1918 established the Czechoslovakia as a new state in Europe. On 29th of February 1920 the Constitution of Czechoslovakia was approved.
29th of October, Day of the Birth of Ľudovít Štúr – The author of the present Slovak language standard was born in 1815.
30th of October, Anniversary of the Declaration of the Slovak Nation – Slovaks officially joined Czechoslovakia in 1918.
31st of October, Reformation Day – In 1517 Martin Luther nailed up his famous programme in Wittenberg.
30th of December, Day of the Declaration of Slovakia as an Independent Ecclesiastic Province – In 1977 Slovakia wasdeclared as an independent ecclesiastic province by pope Paul VI.
What holidays are celebrated in Slovakia but not in the US?
Many visitors asked this question, so here is the comparison:
- 1st of January is celebrated in both countries, but for a different reason – Emergence of Slovakia vs. New Year’s Day in USA.
- 6th of January, Feast of the Epiphany is a holiday in Slovakia but not in USA. United States of America has another holiday on third Monday in January – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
- Good Friday and Easter are national holidays in Slovakia, but are not a US federal holidays. However, they can still be celebrated by some US citizens/organizations.
- 1st of May, International Workers’ Day is celebrated in Slovakia but not in the US.
- 8th of May, End of WW2 is celebrated in Slovakia but not in the US. However, last Monday in May is a federal holiday called Memorial Day (Honors the US war dead from the Civil War).
- 5th of July, Memory of St. Constantine and St. Methodius is a holiday which is only relevant to Slovakia, people don’t celebrate it in USA. United States are celebrating the 4th of July – the Independence Day.
- 29th of August, Slovak National Uprising is only celebrated in Slovakia, nowhere else. But there is a non-federal holiday in USA on 26th of August – the Women’s Equality Day.
- 1st of September, Day of the Constitution of the Slovak Republic is again only a holiday for Slovaks. The closest holiday in USA is the Labor Day celebrated on first Monday in September.
- 15th of September, Day of Our Lady of Sorrows is not celebrated in US, but there is holiday on 11th of September – Patriot Day, designated in memory of the 2993 casualties in the September 11, 2001, attacks.
- 1st of November, All Saints’ Day is celebrated in Slovakia but not in the US. USA celebrates the day before – 31st of October is a Halloween.
- 17th of November, Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day isn’t celebrated in US, but 11th of November is Veterans Day and fourth Thursday in November is Thanksgiving Day. Both are federal holidays.