Did your family attend religious services during the Christmas season? What were the customs and traditions involved?
Going to church was always a part of our Christmas celebration. Our church, Holy Trinity Roman Catholic church, was branded the “Slovak parish” because it was established by Slovak immigrants, and usually had a pastor who was of Slovak heritage. My paternal grandfather was very active in the church.
When I was very young we would attend the early mass (4 p.m.). Occasionally, we would go to mass on Christmas Day, but most of the time we went to midnight mass. The church was always beautifully decorated with poinsettias and candles and the manger. I always enjoyed the carols and at our church the choir also sang several Christmas carols in Slovak, which was a very special tribute to the Slovak heritage.
I still prefer to attend midnight mass–although it is no longer held at midnight–usually 10 p.m. at most of the churches in our area. I still enjoy listening to carols but I really do miss the Slovak ones as in my home parish. Fortunately, I inherited an album (yes a 33 1/3 RPM for those of you old enough to remember) from my mother that has both English and Slovak versions of Christmas hymns. It was recorded at another Slovak parish in Pittsburgh. I play it every Christmas Eve. I also have converted it to digital format so I can listen to it on CD or my computer/iPod.