Mountain life. Shepherd ship. Hard work. Traditions. Faith. Culture.
We visited Lendak, a village on the East end of High Tatras mountain rage. The village of a population above 5000 is principally self-sufficient as their inhabitants still primarily live from shepherd ship and produce all they need by themselves. This is a hard farming life that the local people preserve.
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Sunday morning, your attention is immediately caught crowds that dress up in the traditional colorful costumes to attend a mess. And this is not some kind of an exceptional local event. Dressing up every Sunday has remained a tradition that the locals keep alive. And you don’t find many places like this in Europe anymore.
Photo: Almost Bananas
Visiting the local History Museum, the owner Helena, explains this further. People have several sets of those traditional dresses and there is a given rule which dress you wear for an occasion, for instance, you have a dress to wear every Sunday to church, one to wear during Christmas, one for the Easter and other important festivities.
Interesting is to note that here in Lendak, they keep the very old tradition of pre-wedding ceremonies. Those also have a given dress code. Prior to the wedding day itself, the young couple goes 3 times to church for a public “announcement” of the wedding which would usually happen at the end of a public mess on Sunday morning. For the first approval session, the future bride wears a white dress, for the second announcement a blue one and for the third one a pink one. For the wedding ceremony itself, the bride’s dress is again white. For the groom, this gets much easier as he wears the same type and color of his dress each time.
It is very common here to have large families and six children are not an exception. This is also why this village is one of a few in the whole country where the number of young people under 30 years old is higher than the rest of the population. We were also told by the locals that the people from Lendak prefer to marry people from Lendak. And in exceptional cases in which the bride brings a groom from outside, the groom is “baptized” and thus accepted as the local after some beating by the local peers during the first public appearance. We were not able to confirm that but that’s what we were told.
Let’s talk about the museum because we found it fascinating how it came about thanks to a dedication of one person, madam Helena. The museum is an old wooden house from the 50th of last century. This sounds not that old but as two thirds of the houses burned down during a vast fire in the 50th, they were reconstructed in line with the originals.
Photo: Lendak History Museum
Imagine the passion of one single lady for her own culture. With help of her family and to a large extent at her own expense, she bought one old house that was standing in a different place of the village, the wooden house was decomposed and brought in pieces to her own backyard where it was composed together again, equipped from own collection or donations with traditional furniture as well as a collection of dresses of which some Helena sewn on her own to have a complete set.
This kind lady warmly welcomes every visitor any time and passionately tells the story of culture, traditions and the local life. She even doesn’t charge any fees as she simply wants to spread the word about the local culture and only accepts voluntary contributions. There are not that many visitors so if you are around in High Tatras and want to have a break from the mountain tours, we encourage you to make a tour to visit. Lendak is not a touristic place so you will experience the real local life here.
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