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Traditions and Holidays: Beginning of May in Slovakia

With the arrival of May, Slovakia abounds with folk festivals and traditions.

May 1, the Spring and Labor Day, is associated with the traditional setting up of trees decorated with colourful ribbons, known as “Maypoles,” and preparations for celebrating the so-called “Majáles”.

The decorated trees are placed in town squares or in front of residential buildings. According to tradition, the maypoles were usually built by young men on the night before the holiday in front of the house of the girl they like. The building of maypoles is accompanied by music, dancing, and fairs where one can find traditional handicrafts and national cuisine.

The history of building the maypoles dates back to 1255 to the German city of Aachen. In Slovakia, the maypoles were built in various regions at different times. In the western part of the country, the maypoles were built at the beginning of the month, but in the Zemplín region or south-central regions of Slovakia, they were built on the Pentecost.

The month of May is considered in Slovakia a time of love and the birth of new life. Spring celebrations continue with colourful festivities known as “Majáles”. These cultural events, organised by towns and villages, are popular especially among young people. For example, in 2024, Bratislava's Majáles will take place on 3 – 4 May as a grand open-air music festival on the banks of the Danube River.

Slovaks love and protect the nature of their country. On these spring days, they often visit natural monuments, historical churches, and chapels. The religious often pray for blessings and a rich harvest in the upcoming year.

Translation: Alexandra Koreňová