Nationality: Slovakian, American
Residence: Willowbrook, Illinois
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/16/2016
Primary Language: Slovak
Other Language(s): English, Russian
Background: A.J. is a 65-year-old woman who was born and raised in Poprad, Slovakia. She relocated to the United States from Slovakia 20 years ago, while her son was attending University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A.J. holds a degree in child development and since coming to the United States has worked as a nanny. She is married to her lifelong sweetheart and has one son and three grandchildren. She often talks about her home and family in Slovakia – about the beautiful mountains and the culture. Although she is now a US citizen, she incorporates many Slovak traditions into everyday life, and enjoys telling stories about her family and her family traditions.
A.J.: Same day – December 13. On St. Lucy, we make dough and on small piece of paper we write name what boy you like it – mostly this girl do it. What boy you like it – can be one, can be couple, how many you want and you put in in this flour dough and make dumpling. Then you cook in water – boil in the water and when was ready this dough you put to the cold water and you choose one dumpling and what name of boy was there you will dating in this year.
Q: So does each girl do it for themselves?
A.J.: Yes – OK.
Q: So you can put maybe 5 names down and then whichever one you pick that’s who you are going to be dating?
A.J.: Yeah but we put the all girls in the one bowl. Yeah – all girls in one bowl.
Q: So what happens if you get somebody else’s boy?
A.J.: We just were thinking this will be my boyfriend for this year.
Q: Why did you do it on St. Lucy Day?
A.J.: Because they said December 13 is like witch day you know – witches coming and they would doing this stuff. This is like Witch Day. Witches are never good on this day. They make always trouble. They said when the witch came to your house they kill animals and something happen to your family and bad stuff always happen.
Performance Context: This ritual would occur in Slovakia on December 13, also known as St. Lucy’s Day, by groups of young girls typically in their teenage years.
My Thoughts: I think that it is interesting how much of the Slovak culture surrounds witches and magic. This ritual is done on December 13, or St. Lucy’s Day, because it is the “witch day.” However, witches are typically associated with bad things that happen, so it is curious why girls typically do this ritual to “find their boyfriend” for the next year on the witches’ day. It could be because since it is the day of the witches, it is also the day of magic.