Opatová: A region rich in more than just tradition

Published: 7. 7. 2022
Author: Katarína Hanzelová
Photo: Photo Ramon Leško
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Ancient Roman armies once marched through this region, leaving behind a sign that is considered to this day to be the mark of the town's inception.

Matthew III Csák, Lord of Waag and the Tatras, adored its beauties from the castle high up on the hill, and Turkish army officer Omar marked it with an eternal imprint of love, having dug a well in the rock at the courtyard for his beloved Fatima.

Surveying the customs

It was this love and heroism but also the indomitable human will that shaped local folklore and art, which to this day entrances people with its songs, dances, and music infused with emotions collected over centuries. We visited this region thanks to the Slovak Folk Costume Day, for which we surveyed the customs that our ancestors observed to welcome the spring. The variety and diversity we found among the locals was a pleasant surprise. As soon as we entered Opatová by way of Trenčín, we could feel that it was special. Brass-band music was in full swing and all folklore enthusiasts were happily engaging with one another. We had no idea at the time that we would also end up dancing! We experienced genuine joy listening to the music and participating in traditions, all against the backdrop of a beautiful old mill.

Aunt Katarína’s stories

Aunt Katarína is a fount of knowledge and memories when it comes to local folklore, she even experienced many of the things we had the chance to see. “We used to say that on Shrovetide you’d go from inn to inn while on Easter you’d go from church to church,” she begins her gripping account. “Despite having to endure a long and strict forty-day fast between these two holidays, especially the young enjoyed dancing on Shrovetide as well as Easter. Majáles (Translator’s note: A carnival of sorts that has now turned into a student festival tradition) was another big thing around here. It would start off by building up two of these big decorated trees or poles in front of the church – they had to be taller than the church tower. The boys took care of that while the girls were busying themselves with their looks at home, trying to be as beautiful as possible for the festivities that came later. The hairstyle was key, you had to have a precise, straight braid and your hair had to be properly glossy. We would use pork ointment to get the best effect, often in excessive amounts. And that is when the true May festivities would commence.”

We had the chance to see and hear just how much the people of Opatová enjoy dancing and being festive during our visit to this distinct village located in close proximity to the legendary Trenčín Castle.

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