This is our very first Christmas here in Slovakia - and there is so much to learn!
Some aspects of the holiday are very familiar - people getting together for example (but with a much stronger emphasis on family). Big meals will be had and gifts opened on December 24th. Shoes, like stockings, have already been enjoyed earlier this month.
The traditional Slovak Christmas meal is kapustnica and kapor = cabbage soup and carp. Not every Slovak is keen on this meal, but it is the traditional food of choice. We've already had kapustnica and it is very good (the carnivore in us was satisfied by the pieces of salami and ham). We are preparing ourselves for the carp; which we will be experiencing tomorrow...
The whole carp process is quite something. Shops have set-up large plastic tanks outdoors brimming with carp (at least 1 is open 24-hours). While shopping with a friend Matthew got to be a part of the carp-purchasing process:
-the store we were at had a deal: spend 2,999 crowns before tax and receive a carp and bottle of champagne FREE
-we spent enough money and then waited in the carp line
-when you get to the front, they hand you your champagne and a live carp in a plastic shopping bag (no water)
-we drove to my friends house (carp making himslef known in the back-seat)
-we filled up the bathtub and introduced the carp to his last earthly home
-since carp are river fish, people allow the carp to live in their bathtub for 2-3 days to allow the fish to clean itself in fresh water
-the fish will be killed, cleaned and served on the 24th (there is a big emphasis on having fresh carp for Christmas)
We named this carp Pan Večera (Mr.Dinner)