Current officially celebrates eight religious holidays, which are in

Current representation of
past historical events as holidays in Slovakia

 

            Holidays are the most common and
well known form of celebrating historical events as a tradition. A holiday is a
set date (or in a few cases a moveable date connected to an event of nature,
for example Easter, which is celebrated on the first Sunday after the
ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after 21 March) that is set by
either a custom (older, traditional holidays) or by a law (holidays of the
modern era). Traditional holidays more often celebrate a religious event, while
modern holidays rather choose a recent historical event.

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            Slovakia officially celebrates eight
religious holidays, which are in order the Day of Epiphany (also known as the
Day of Biblical Magi, Three Wise Man or Three Kings), Good Friday and Easter
Monday, the Day of Our Lady of Sorrows (patron saint of Slovakia), the holiday
of All Saints, Christmas Eve and the First and Second Day of Christmas. I
believe these holidays are celebrated well in our country, since in the past
few years the government implemented new laws regarding the closing of all
shops during these holidays, which in a way forces people to stay at home with
their families and relax, even if they do not feel like celebrating.

            Other than these, Slovakia has seven
state holidays and seventeen memorial days, the later are not non-working days.

            The first state holiday of the year
is the 1st January, which is the Day of the Establishment of the Slovak
Republic. My opinion is that while it is a great thing to celebrate the day our
country had formated, it gets overshadowed by New Year’s Eve and the most
common way of celebration is a few political rallies that are used by
politicians to gain more popularity. I would encourage the state to find a way
to remember this day in a more remarkable and more importantly in a more
neutral way, so all people of the Slovak republic can become one with the
holiday (see for example the monumental celebrations held in Hungary on 20th
August, celebrating Stephen I and the establishment of Hungary).

            The second state holiday in the year
is 1st May, the International Workers’ Day. Slovakia celebrates this holiday
since 1919 (as Czechoslovakia back then), which is connected with the western
Labour Day. This holiday was created to celebrate the 8 hour workday, now,
however, it celebrates every working people in the country. While it is a good
cause to let the hardworking men and women of a country know that their work is
appreciated, this day has been linked with the parades and marches of the
communist era in many people’s memory, which might awaken some unpleasant
memories. Considering to somehow isolate the two might be a good thing,
however, the younger generations can not remember the times before 1989, so it
might as well be unnecessary. This day is also counted as a memorial day, since
Slovakia joined the European Union on this day in 2004. However, this event is
barely recognized in the media and in public discussions, de-emphasized by the
International Workers’ Day.

            The next important day in Slovakia’s
history that gets celebrated is 8th May, which is called Victory Day or Day of
victory over fascism. It falls on the day nazi Germany capitulated to the
Soviet Red Army, while it’s celebrating the overall victory over the fascist
regime. It is a great opportunity to remember all the horrors any dictatorial
regime did. Lately an annual anti-fascist march is held in bigger cities of
Slovakia to protest against the far-right wing politicians and groups in the
country, which seems to have an increased effect on the turnouts of the latest votes.

            The Saints Cyril and Methodius Day
falls on 5th July and reflects on the two Christian missionaries who influenced
the cultural and social development of every Slavic nation. The “Apostles of Slavs”  are celebrated by many Slavic countries
today, however, mostly by those, in which Eastern Orthodox is the most followed
religion. This again is a pleasantly received holiday, we need to cherish the
great men that had an impact on our history, and holding various commemorations
around a country is a way people can enjoy history.

            An anniversary celebrated in
Slovakia, that is connected to the Day of victory over fascism, is the
anniversary of the Slovak National Uprising, which is celebrated on 39th
August. It celebrates how the people of Slovakia rose up against the nazi
occupation in 1944. While this is an important and highly celebrated day in the
country, it often gets defiled by political groups. The Slovak right wing often
looks at it as a communist conspiracy, an international sabotage to remove the,
by their definition lawful leadership of Slovakia. Thankfully,  by the other side of the political spectrum,
this day is used as well to fight the rising powers of Slovak far-right groups.

            1st September is the Day of the
Slovak Constitution, which is one of, if not the holiday mostly drenched in
politics. Rallies, campaigns, huge words by politicians are expected on this
day all around the country, which for me is not the most appealing way to
celebrate to say at least. However, it is popular amongst the youth as it adds
one more day to the summer vacation, so at least it was set on a useful date.

            On 17th November we remember two
history-changing events in Slovakia’s life: first the student demonstration
against Nazi occupation around Europe in 1939, and more importantly the
demonstrations in Bratislava and Prague in 1989, which are often cited as the
first steps towards the Velvet Revolution. Many people have talked about lately
how small effect did the Velvet Revolution had on the lives of everyday people
and how nothing changed since then. In these pessimistic discussions many
brought up the abolishment of this holiday, however, I do not agree with this
idea. 17th November has a special place in Slovak history and anyone saying
nothing has changed in the last almost 30 years is purposely looking at the
wrong side of the things.

            Other than these state holidays,
Slovakia celebrates different memorial days that are usually in connection with
less important, yet still memorable historical events from the past of the
country, or are celebrating a famous Slovak. 25th March is the Struggle for
Human Rights Day, 13th April the Day of the Unjustly Persecuted, 4th May is the
Anniversary of the Demise of Milan Rastislav Štefánik, 7th June the Memorandum
of Slovak Republic Day, 5th July the Foreign Slovaks Day, 17th July is the
Anniversary of the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Slovak Republic, 4th
August the Day of Matica Slovenská, 9th September the Holocaust and Racial
Violence Victims Day, 19th September the Constitution of the Slovak National
Council Day, 6th October is the Dukla Pass Victims Day, 27th October is the Day
of the ?ernova Tragedy, 28th October the Independent Czechoslovak State Day
(which is celebrated less and less since the independence of Slovakia), 29th
October is celebrated as the day ?udovít Štúr was born, 30th October is the
Anniversary of the Declaration of the Slovak Nation, 31th October the
Reformation Day while 30th December is Day of the Declaration of Slovakia as an
Independent Ecclesiastical Province.

            As the list of examples above shows,
Slovakia has many and more occasions to celebrate, from the traditional
Christian holidays, all the way through the latest historical events and the
anniversaries of great Slovak people. While I highly agree with most of these
days becoming holidays or memorials, I think in many cases we should remember
these events in a more respectable and less political form. The only addition I
would make would be 31st December, the last day of the year, which is a regular
workday in Slovakia, and should be celebrated with summarizing and reflecting
on the year we are leaving behind.