The ritual of engagement in Slovakia is interesting because some of the traditions have survived since the Middle Ages. Today, the engagement and wedding ceremonies are not that important and rarely are held according to the old traditions, but in the past, it was a big deal and all the rituals and customs had to be followed. Let’s see what old and modern engagement rituals there are in Slovakia.
Before the actual wedding in Slovakia, a special ceremony called “pytačky” was traditionally held. The groom came to the bride’s parents to ask for her hand in marriage. Slovak marriages in the past were often arranged or at least the parents had a serious say in whom their children would marry. Far not always, two young people got wed just because they loved each other. Every family was looking for a good match for their child to ensure the life of the newlyweds would be wealthy.
When the groom talked with the bride’s parents, they agreed on how much dowry he was going to pay and discussed similar matters. He came not alone but with a few elders from his side, who supported him and communicated with their future relatives.
If everything was agreed on, the couple made their next move – the bride and groom went to the priest and arranged for the wedding ceremony.
It should be done in advance, because for 3 Sundays before the wedding, an announcement about it had to be done. These three weeks were given to other villagers so that they could notify the priest and the community if this union for some reason couldn’t be made. Also, the announcements helped other people to find out about the future wedding. By the way, even today, these 3 Sunday announcements are made in Slovakia – people still honor this tradition.
Fun fact! Such Sunday announcements first appeared in medieval Europe. You can read about it here: Horrible and adorable medieval wedding traditions. Most countries long forgot about it, but in Slovakia, people still do it.
The night before the wedding day, the couple exchanged gifts. The fiance gave her new shoes (which were rather expensive at the time, so it was a costly present) and the fiancee gave him a new embroidered shirt (which she made specifically for him by her own hands). These items they both would wear for the wedding.