Culture History


Eating Habits

In former times, the Hungarian Slovenes were baking 5-8 loaves of flat bread consisting of approximately 3 kg rye flour every two to three weeks. To the rye flour some corn, barley and oatmeal were added. Furthermore, they often added some baked potatoes to this. In worse times, in periods of bad harvests respectively, the flour was often supplemented with dried beech crust and corn cobs. In Szakonyfalu one also baked dried fruit (apples, pears, plums) together with the bread. In the trough, in which the bread dough had been kneaded, there was always some dough left. With this remainder small breads, which were given to the youngest children, were baked. It was the children who called this kind of bread small bread (postrüznjek). Before cutting the bread, the Hungarian Slovenes always drew the shape of a cross with the bread knife on the under surface of the bread. When a slice of bread had been fallen to the ground, it was picked up, kissed and eaten. A common saying goes: “The fog of Saint Vid-Day eats the bread...”

Until the end of the First World War, the Hungarian Slovenes primarily nourished on barley grits, sweet corn and beans and on stews made of cabbage and beans respectively. On their menu there were various dishes made of grit, cabbage and potatoes, furthermore specialties made of flour and milk. Meat dishes were mainly dished up on feasts like pig slaughter and bigger festive days. Parallel to sweet corn, the cultivation of pumpkins and thus the production and use of pumpkin seed oil developed.

Before the Second World War, people dished up mash meals for breakfast, potato dumplings for lunch and fried potatoes with milk for dinner on work-days. The snacks were eaten in the field. On Sundays and on celebrations however, mainly soup, cabbage and meat was on the menu of the Hungarian Slovenes.

The mash and grits meals were made of wheat flour and sweet cornmeal, whereas the pasta used in soups was made of nothing but wheat flour. Also for the preparation of baked flat bread, pretzels, strudel and pancakes, which were fried in animal fat, people only used wheat flour.


In the 19th century, the Hungarian and Austrian Styrian use of liveries had a big influence on the liveries of the Slovenes in the Szentgotthárd region. Due to the major emigration wave of the Hungarian Slovenes to the U.S. in the first half of the 20th century, their clothing was highly affected by North America, later by reason of the augmented seasonal workers activities in Germany, it was also influenced by German culture.

The liveries of the Hungarian Slovenes were gentrified already early. In the beginning of the 20th century, the clothing was often made of linen, which had been woven at home. The “upper skirt” reached the women down to the middle lower leg. Together with this skirt they used to wear long sleeve shirts and on top of them, an apron. In Apátistvánfalva laces in different colours were sown in two rows underneath the skirt. Then a second skirt, which could be used up, was attached to these laces.

The lower seam of men's trousers was broad, provided with fringes and above of these fringes, the trouser leg was decorated with embroidery. The linen tissue, of which most clothing of the Hungarian Slovenes was made, was mainly coloured black, brown and green. The black colour was made of grime and both the brown as the green of boiled bark and leaves. Also the men's shirt consisted of linen produced in cottage industry. The sleeves were cut very largely and decorated with buttons around the wrists. The shirt was crinkled on the front and on the back and was tucked into the trousers.

The apron used to be the most traditional element of both women's and men's clothing until approximately 1970. During the first half of the 20th century the elderly men wore dark blue aprons also on feast days. These aprons covered the upper part of the body either completely or only half of it. Women’s aprons, which were worn on feasts, were decorated with laces on the front and tied to a big loop at the back. During the years from 1930-1940, also women’s aprons were sewn of blue tissue.

Until the first half of the 20th century, young girls plaited their hair in the shape of either one or two pigtails. At the end of the pigtails they tied a red bow. Married women used to tie their plaits in the shape of a knot underneath their headscarves. Women always combed their hair backwards forming buns, in order to make their headscarves look more beautiful. Elderly women used to make a parting, whereas the younger ones mostly combed their hair backwards in a flat way.

In-between the two World Wars the married women from Apátistvánfalva wore bun covers made of soft linen underneath their headscarves. The headscarf either covered only the head or also the shoulders. It is an essential element of the traditional clothing of the female Hungarian Slovenes. During the first half of the 19th century women used to wear simple, long headscarves. In the second half of the 19th century however, they already wore more colourful headscarves, which were made of silk. At the beginning of the 20th century the coloured headscarf made of Cashmere was prevalent. Until the First World War only married women wore headscarves, underneath of which their hair was pinned up to a bun. During the First and the Second World War also twelve year old girls occasionally wore headscarves. Below the chin the headscarf was either tied in the shape of a square knot or a loop. In summer time women used to tie their headscarves behind their necks or they simply laid them on their heads. What is more, the women living in the early 19th century covered up their torsos with shoulder-length linen in the size of a tablecloth, whereas in the 20th century the shoulder-length headscarves consisted of coloured wool.

On feasts, funerals, while attending church and while walking, women used to carry their handkerchiefs in their hands. Until about 1970, female Hungarian Slovenes carried their money bound in their handkerchiefs.

On feast days, men used to wear hats. In Szakonyfalu very often a flower, an oak tree leaf or a coloured feather were attached to the hats. Recruits and unmarried men wore ostrich feathers on their hats. Still until the First World War little girls and boys up to the age of six used to wear long shirts that reached to their knees. Until about 1960, the Hungarian Slovenes wore shoes only in winter and outdoors. From March until the first snowfall they walked around barefoot outside the house. Inside the house, they never wore shoes.

The Hungarian Slovenes never decorated their clothing with a great deal of embroidery. On the one hand they were away due to seasonal work and on the other hand they lacked the money to afford it. Only the spot above the fringes of the trouser leg, women's blouses, the tablecloth and the handkerchiefs were decorated with embroidery. In the years from 1960-1970 women used to decorate their “upper skirts” with “cross-embroidery”.

The Slovenes from the Raba Region used to wash their laundry in troughs. The huge wooden troughs were covered with linen, which were endued with ash. This linen was watered several times a day. With an effluent that was located below the trough one used to absorb the water and reused it to moisturize the ash on the linen. Afterwards the washed clothing and bed sheets were swivelled out in a creek or a pond and by means of a wash board they were cleaned from the remaining dirt particles.

The flat iron and often also a roll were used to do the ironing. Until the 1960s the bed sheets and larger cloths were flattened with the roll and ironed coolly respectively. The clothing however, was ironed hot with the flat iron. These flat irons were either heated up with coal or with hot iron lifts, which had been heated on the cooker.



The Slovene families from the Raba Region lived and to some extent still live together with more than one generation consolidated. However, this was not the extended family, which was known to the Slovene people since the Early Middle Ages, but it was and still is an extended family, in which also second-grade relatives are considered close relatives. If, for example, the godparents are not blood relatives, then they are not accounted as true relatives. For the Slovenes from the Raba Region maternal lineage is being emphasized. The most important relatives are thus the sisters of the mother.


The tradition of the Slovenes from the Raba Region to give each other names is significant. The people possess, apart from their last and first names also an appellation after the house in which they live and also a surname. The most common family names are: Bajzek, Gyécsek, Sulics, Skaper, Mukics, Ropos, Csuk, Szukics, Rogán, Doncsecz, Merkli, Domiter, Holecz and Császár. The most common first names are Mária and Anna for women and József und Ferenc for men. The people from the Raba Region know each other and entitle each other following the appellation of the house, in which they live. Their surnames consist of different kinds of characteristics, which can be nice, ridiculous and also offending. The latter is only expressed during the absence of the person of course.


From the beginning of the 20th century until the Second World War the toys of the children were very simple. Girls used to play with dolls, which were made of rags. Also boys owned toys made of cloth (like balls). The children cut the shapes of arms and legs out of cardboard, knitted them with threads and tinkered puppets. What is more, boys carved arrows and toy shotguns out of elder wood. Outdoors they played with balls, brick earth bowls and they also played hide-and-seek together.

Translated from German into English: Joël Gerber

The German text is based on: “