Depending on what country you come from, you may or may not be familiar with nameday calendars. The Slovak one is not an exception. Like some of our European neighbours, Slovaks have assigned people’s first names to every day in their calendar. Why? Well, there are several explanations for that, but one is so typically Slovak – it’s another reason to celebrate, and have fun!
Although the popularity and preference for first names is constantly changing, and so is Slovak calendar, there are some that will never disappear. At least not from our calendar. Silvester is not a name you would normally hear in Slovak streets, unless you come or are staying here anytime around 31st December. Yes, it’s the name associated with end-of-year parties and celebrations, which can be pretty buoyant.
While a Slovak Christmas is all about family and home, and to a great extent about the celebration of Christ’s birth, Silvester is quite the opposite. More often than not, you will go out to spend the night partying with your friends, or arrange to stay at a cottage in the countryside, ideally as part of a short skiing holiday.
As we’ve had very little snow in Slovakia so far, there will be more drinking than skiing on Silvester this year. At least the skies have cleared up in the last couple of days, so we can see the sun again after a long foggy spell.
Back after a refreshing walk, it’s time now to get things ready for the long night ahead. Some Slovak families make their Silvester menu very much the same as traditional Christmas dinner, while others like to give it a new, more casual touch. I belong to the latter group, so a tuna steak with a dollop of onion marmalade and a cranberry sauce on the side has been this year’s choice.
The day goes on very quickly when there’s so much to do. As the clock strikes five o’clock, the sun’s going down and we set about preparing festive appetizers for a laid-back, homey party. Slices of buttered rolls covered with a spicy sausage, an assortment of Slovak cheeses and various pickles, are very popular for a Silvester buffet.
My family’s favourite dessert on a Silvester night is Banana No-bake Minicakes. They’re easy and fun to do, only they have the annoying habit of disappearing at the same speed as they are made. I’ll be posting a recipe for them very soon.
The children are gone out or away with friends by now, so it’s only the two of us welcoming the strikes of a midnight clock – and the New Year. Let’s hope it’s a good one!
Cheers to a healthy and prosperous 2016!