As it’s St Nicholas Day on December 6th in Slovakia or ‘Mikuláš’ in Slovak, let’s look at their take on the Christmas tradition!
On Mikuláš day, children in Slovakia receive fruit and sweets in their shoes which our Saint Nick character fills the night before, alongside an angel and a devil who can tell whether you’ve been good or bad! Sound a tad familiar?
Other Slovak traditions like keeping a live fish on Christmas Eve then eating it the next day might not be everyone’s choice way to celebrate the holiday of giving, but a hot mulled drink is certainly more palatable.
Every culture has a different approach to Christmas, but one thing that we all agree on is a good ol’ Christmas Market with lots of sweet treats and mulled drinks.
These are delicious potato pancakes, and you will see them at every other food stall in a Slovak market. They can be sweet or savoury. The most popular savoury options are cabbage and sausage filled pancakes or filled with Slovak cheese ‘Bryndza’. This old sweet tooth though loves the chocolate, Nutella and nuts fillings. Dinner could always be one savoury and one sweet option….
This is a meat roll, usually filled with chicken or pork, mustard and grilled onions and is extremely popular at a Slovak Christmas market. It literally translates as a gypsy roast but is in fact just a variation on a burger.
Keeping it simple, this is a grilled sausage that is normally served with mustard, and some bread. In Poland it would be referred to as Kielbasa.
This must be everyone’s favourite at any Central/Eastern European Christmas market… You may know it as Chimney Cake. This sweet pastry twisted around a wooden stick and coated in cinnamon, cocoa, vanilla or nuts is just heaven.
These are incredibly lovely, as something to eat at the market and as gifts. They are ginger bread biscuits that are decorated with pictures and baked in seasonal shapes
Now you will see a big crossover between Austrian and German and Hungarian influences as all countries share a common history at one point or another. The Strudel is one such crossover. Having not tried all strudel options the most common flavours are cream cheese and cherry, apple and nuts and cherry.
Honey wine or mead is a traditional alcoholic tipple you probably only ever see at Christmas markets. You’ll find it in Slovak markets under the name ‘medovina’ (honey wine) or Včelovina which has an even stronger honey taste. They come in different flavours too, cherry is a particular favourite. They are sweet and will certainly warm you up on a nippy winter’s day.
You might have guessed this is otherwise known as ‘Punch’ and it can either be an alcoholic or non-alcoholic hot drink, but it is always served with fruit and spices. There are so many different combinations of flavours – our new favourite is elderflower and mint! It doesn’t have the overwhelming sweetness of mead, making it a bit more of a crowd pleaser.
The pinnacle of hot beverages at Christmas markets is mulled wine. You’ll see it at every Slovak market and it doesn’t always need to be red, it can be white wine too, and served with fruits and cinnamon/star anise. Another little extra tip is to try a hot blackcurrant wine, which is a Slovak speciality and delicious!