MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
Most Slovak families have two or three children. Government budget cuts have resulted in charges for some services that used to be free, but paid maternity leave for mothers, a cash allowance for each birth, and childcare facilities are still provided. Most women work outside the home, and 44 per cent of the labour force is female. Women are usually also responsible for the care of the home and children, although some men are beginning to share the household duties. Most urban families live in small, modest flats built during the Communist era. Single-family homes are common in rural areas.
Men generally marry between the ages of 23 and 26, and women about three years earlier. Traditionally, a woman's family had to craft a set of feather beds for her, her future husband, and their first child. After the wedding ceremony, a bride's headdress was traditionally replaced with the cap of a married woman. Today, most Slovak weddings involve church ceremonies, and brides are often paraded around the village in a procession. The reception afterwards lasts until morning and the celebrations may go on for days. The groom carries his bride over the threshold of their new home. A housing shortage has meant that many newly married couples initially live with one set of parents.
Among the most popular Slovak foods are reze× (breaded steak) and potatoes, as well as other kinds of meat served with potatoes, rice, dumplings, or pasta and sauce. Some sweet dishes, such as prune dumplings, are served as part of the main course. The national dish is bryndzové halušky (small dumplings made with sheep's cheese), but it is not eaten often in the home. Freshly baked bread and soup are important parts of the diet. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and butter, are widely available. Fresh fruits (apples, plums, and grapes) are abundant, and imported bananas and oranges are popular for holidays. Potatoes, cabbage, and carrots are the most frequently eaten vegetables. Popular desserts include koláą (nut or poppy-seed rolls) and torta (cake).
Breakfast consists of bread and rolls, sliced meat or sausage, and cheese. The main meal is traditionally eaten in the middle of the day and commonly includes soup, meat, dumplings or potatoes, and a vegetable. A lighter meal of cold meats, cheese, and bread is eaten in the evening. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks are common.
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Slovakia - Lifestyle
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