Slovak Christmas: The Wonders of the Golden Pig

I thought I had already heard all about Slovak Christmas traditions. How they watch fairy tales on television and play with a carp in their bathtub. (I am not making this up.) Then yesterday evening, my wife and I had the following conversation:

Denisa: And remember. Don’t have any food tomorrow before dinner, or you won’t see the Golden Pig. (Slovak: Zlate Prasa)

Me: (staring at her, not comprehending) Say what?

Denisa: The Golden Pig.

Me: What in the world is the Golden Pig?

Denisa: A pig made out of gold. If you don’t eat before dinner, you get to see him.

Me: Does he bring you anything?

Denisa: I don’t know. Nobody’s ever seen him before.

The conversation went on from there, but I’ll sum it up for you. Basically, Christmas in Slovakia is celebrated on the 24th in the evening. (They call it Stedry Vecer–generous evening, roughly.) There are tons of treats and goodies and food, and you eat until you pop. To keep the kids from getting into all the food too soon and too much, there’s the legend of the Golden Pig. Parents keep reminding their kids throughout the day that if they eat before dinner (usually around 2), then then won’t get to see the Golden Pig. But there are so many goodies and treats to eat, no one can resist sampling some–and so no one’s ever seen the Golden Pig.

I told TRC and DC about it this morning, but they’d already eaten breakfast. They were both very disappointed they wouldn’t get to see the Golden Pig, but they’ve decided they’ll try again next year.

When I commented to Denisa that this seemed just a tad ridiculous, she reminded me that Americans believe a magical rabbit comes to hand out eggs and presents every Easter.

Touche, Denisa. Touche.

Merry Christmas everybody. And try not to eat anything. If any of you manage to snap a picture of the Golden Pig, please share!

11 Comments

  • By scotterb, December 24, 2012 @ 5:13 pm

    Interesting. I grew up with the German tradition of opening gifts and celebrating on the 24th. I always thought it odd and less fun to open gifts the morning of the 25th. Do they have candles on their Christmas trees there? Well, Merry Christmas from South Dakota to you all in Slovakia. And the evening of the 24th is the RIGHT time to celebrate!

  • By Katya, December 24, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

    If I was Denisa, I would be sorely tempted to invent random traditions just to see if I could convince you they were real.

  • By Anika, May 30, 2017 @ 3:57 pm

    My family celebrates with a variation of this- if you don’t eat any candy until after dinner, the golden pig will give you a little money. It’s one of my favorites, partly because not many people in my city know about it.

  • By Loadholt, December 9, 2019 @ 4:57 am

    I enjoy the way the writer organized his thoughts as well
    as the visual component.

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