October 5, 2003 - Personal Web Page: My name is Mike Snyder.I am a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Slovak Republic.

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Slovakia: Peace Corps Slovakia : The Peace Corps in Slovakia: October 5, 2003 - Personal Web Page: My name is Mike Snyder.I am a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Slovak Republic.

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, October 04, 2003 - 11:19 am: Edit Post

My name is Mike Snyder.I am a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Slovak Republic.

My name is Mike Snyder.I am a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Slovak Republic.

My name is Mike Snyder.I am a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Slovak Republic. I teach at a high school in the south-east corner of Slovakia, in a town called Trebisov.

Slovakia is a small country in Central Europe. It's capital is Bratislava, and it is in the south west of the country near Austria. The Slovak people have a very long history, and the country is full of castles and old buildings and churches. Some of the villages make you fell like you are walking through a fairy tale with old castles and rolling hills surrounding the wooden houses in the town. The summers are hot and the winters are cold here. In the north of the country is a beautiful alpine mountian range called the Tatras, and in the south there are rolling hills where they grow grapes to make wine. There are alot of beatiful and interesting things to see and do, and the history of the country is so long that sometimes I feel like I'm walking through a history book when I compare it to living in the U.S. But, there are also parts of the country that have alot of industry and modern buildings. Slovakia is a modern country that was part of the former Soviet Union's 'Eastern Block'. In 1989 it became an independent country as the eastern half of Czechoslovakia. Then the conutry split in half a few years later, and now we have Slovakia, or the Slovak Republic, and the Czeck Republic.

Democracy is a new idea here, and so the country is learning to live with alot of new ideas and political ideologies. Most of the people in the country speak Slovak, but some people who live near the border of Hungary in the south of the country speak Hungarian. The story I'm going to share with you is translated from the Slovak language. The Slovak poeple have a rich folk tradition, and their folk tales were told for many generations. I was first told this folk tale in my classroom. I asked the students to tell me a traditional Slovak folk tale. By telling me the story they practiced their English and I learned about their culture as well. This is a favorite Slovak folk tale for children.


Once there was a king with three daughters. He protected them like the eyes in his head. When he got older and weaker, and his hair began to turn gray, he thought about which of his daughters would become Queen. This decision was very hard because all of them were pretty and he loved them.

Finally, there was a time when he had to decide. He called his daughters, and he said, "My daughters, I am old, as you can see. I don't know if I will live much longer. So, I would like to know which one of my daughters loves me the most. Tell me, my oldest daughter, How do you like me?" She said," Oh, my father, I love you more than gold.", and she kissed his hand. Her father said, "Allright. And you, my second daughter, how do you like me." And she said, "Oh, my dear father, I love you as much as the flowers I put in my hair.", and she put her hands around his neck. "Allright. And what about you, my youngest little Marushka. How do you love me?" She said, "I love you, my Daddy, like I love salt." And she looked tenderly at him.And her sisters shouted, "Eh, you are worthless, when you love your father only as much as salt!" And she replied, "Yes, I love him like salt."

The father was also angry and he said that a child shouldn't love her father only as much as salt because everyone has salt and just puts it between their fingers. "Go away from me!" he shouted, "and come back when salt is worth more than gold. Then you may become the Queen."

Marushka was so sad she couldn't say anything to her father. She was used to listening to all her father's orders, so she left the castle.

She went the forests and valleys, and finally she came into a dark forest. Suddenly an old woman appeared. "Marushka, Marushka, tell me where you are going and why are you crying?" the old woman said. 'Oh, old woman. There is no reason to tell you about it, when there is nothing that can be done about it. "Oh, my poor little girl, just tell me. Perhaps I can help you.

And so Marushka told this old woman about all her problems, but the woman knew everything because she was a clever woman who knew about magic and the future.

So the woman asked Marushka to live in her house as a servant. Marushka agrred to do this, and they went to the woman's cottage. So the woman feed Marushka, and gave some water. "And now", said the woman, "let's go to work." She wanted to know if Marushka knew how to make thread and how to sew. She also wanted Marushka to tend the sheep and milk them.

Marushka said that she hadn't ever done these things before, but she would try to learn how. The old woman said that she would show her how, and she also said that, perhaps Marushka would need these skills in the future. After she learned how, Marushka became very good at these things.

At home in the castle her sister were having a very good time. They were always very affectionate with their father, and brushed his hair and put their arms around him many times every day. They loved him so much, as he gave them knew clothes, gold, flowers and other nice gifts.

The father found out that the oldest daughter loved him less than gold, and dicovered that the second daughter loved him as long as she always had fresh, beautiful flowers. But when the flowers became old and wilted, and when he didin't give the eldest any gold for along time, the daughter's wouldn't act so tender and loving as when they had what they wanted.

But it was too late for him to say he was sorry to his youngest daughter because no one knew where she lived or what she was doing anymore.

One day there was a big festival, and the second daughter was choosing her husband at the festival. So, it was a very special day, but suddenly a cook came and he said, "King, we don't have any salt because all the salt has melted and has become like water and is feeding the plants under my kitchen." The king became very angry and he said, "Are you crazy!? Order some new salt." But the cook told him that this happened to salt in all the homes all over the country. So the king told him to make dishes that don't need salt. So the cook made some cakes, sweet biscuits, and pudding.

The kingdom ate this food for many weeks and for all the festivals, and all the visitors and guests would leave soon after the food was served. They had enough gold, but they didn't have salt. The king was sad and he was looking for his daughter Marushka, but Marushka hadn't been found. The people became very ill because of their lack of salt. Cows and sheep couldn't be milked because the people were to ill and tired to do their work. So finally the king found out that salt was very important, and that Marushka was right.

Back in the forest, Marushka was content. She didn't know about the situation in the kingdom. However, the old woman knew about it, because she knew how to use magic. One day she told Marushka, "My girl, it is now time for you to return home." And Marushka said, "Oh, my good woman, how can I go home when my father is unhappy with me." and she started to cry. "Don't cry, my little girl, everything will be allright.

In the kingdom salt has become worth more than gold, so you can go home to your father." And the woman added, "You have done your work very well, so you can choose something that you want from me." Marushka said, "Thank you, good woman, I only want a little gift. Just one lump of salt in my hand will be enough." The good woman was suprised because she thought

Marushka would wish for more than salt. So the good woman gave Marushka a twig and said, "Whip the earth with the twig and the earth will open.

In this opening will be your wedding present." In addition to the twig she also gave her a small bag of salt. So Marushka took these things, but she was very sad because she had to leave. So the old woman told her, "Stay the way you are forever. Don't worry about me, I'll be allright." As the woman told Marushka this she disappeared.

Marushka returned to the castle, but no one knew who she was because she had a bonnet around her head. The guard didn't want to let her into the castle, but she insisted. "Please, just let me in. I have something for the king that is worth more than gold. I have medicine that will cure everything.' she said. So the guard brought her to the king and she begged them to give her some bread. They told her that they had bread, but no salt. "What we don't have, we will have." said Marushka. She took the small bag and she salted the bread. "Salt!!" shouted the king. "Eh, good woman, It's a gift worthy of a king. How can I return such a gift?

Tell me what you want." "I don't want anything, Daddy, just for you to love me." she said and she took off her bonnet.

The king was so happy to see her. He asked her to forgive him. They hugged each other and the news spread through the kingdom that the yougest daughter had returned. Marushka's sisters were also happy; not because of seeing her, but beacuse now they had salt.

Everyone got salt from Marushka, but the king was afraid that they would all run out of salt soon. But Marushka said, "It'll be enough,

Daddy." The small bag seemed to have no bottom. Everyone became healthy and Marushka became Queen. Then she remembered that she still had the twig from the good woman, so she took it and went through the valleys and hills in order to whip the earth. After whipping the earth, it opened very wide, wide enough for her to go inside. Inside there was a big room made of ice. There were small trolls with little gas lamps waiting for her.

"Welcome to our kingdom, we have been expecting you. Our Queen ordered us to show you around because everything you see is yours.", the trolls said. Marushka was shocked because of all of the beautiful gold tresures and the many flowers, especially the red-ice roses, which she had never seen before. She picked some of these roses, and discovered they had no smell. "What is this?" she asked, "I have never seen it before."

"All of this you see is salt." replied the trolls. "Is it really salt, it looks like ice? So, there is salt growing here.", she said.

Marushka thought it would be a shame to take from the beauty that was there. The trolls guessed that Marushka was thinking this, so they said, "Just take as much as you like, Marushka. There is no end to the salt we have. Marushka thanked them for everything and left the beautiful room of salt. The earth remained open where she had whippd it and Marushka returned home and told her father about the beauty of the salt room.

But, she hadn't forgotten about the good woman, so Marushka and her father went on a trip with horses and a carrige to visit this old woman and to bring her to the castle because they wanted the woman to live in the kingdom with them forever. Marushka knew the way to the woman's cottage, but when they arrived there they couldn't find her. And then Marushka realized who the old woman was. She was the Queen of Salt, the queen of the trolls in the beautiful salt room. So there was no reason to look for her in her cottage, because Marushka knew the woman had gone back to her kingdom to be the Queen. So Marushka and her father returned home.

When they arrived, everyone was sad because the small bag had finally ran out of salt, but Marushka knew where there was plenty more. There was never a time when the kingdom lived without salt again.

Mike Snyder


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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Slovakia; Folk Tales



By Liz James (ip68-2-204-185.ph.ph.cox.net - on Sunday, July 25, 2004 - 11:32 pm: Edit Post

Hello, My grandparents came from Trebisov in the late 1890's and I'm trying to trace the family tree. Would like to know about the village as I hope to visit there next year. Their name was Szavko.

By Karen A. Melis (acs-24-154-18-238.zoominternet.net - on Monday, November 21, 2005 - 2:33 pm: Edit Post

Thank you for sharing this Slovak folktale. I am very interested in one that comes from Eastern Slovakia near the Polish / Spisz border village of Matiasovce, Slovakia. Have you ever heard of this one or something like it? I'm especially interested in finding a written copy of the story. The story goes that as the nearby villages grew in size, more grain needed to be milled. One man had a fight with the miller named Lopata in the village of Matiasovce. The man decided to build his own mill near a place called Kehel. At nite, the bell rang and the miller was warned by the "Spirit of the lake" not to build the second mill. He built it anyway. When the drought came, the miller needed to release more water from the Jezierko lake upstream to grind the grain. The "Spirit" came again and warned him that he would flood the Zamagurie Valley." The miller ignored the warnings. Again, the spirit appeared warning him to divert the water. Commotion set through the village. The miller ran to the mill to find the grindstone spinning frantically. He worked to divert the water so as not to flood the downstream villages but not before the grinding stone flew off. To this day, the grinding stone has been made into a shrine to remind the villagers not to be greedy.

The reason I am intersted in this folk tale is that the Lopata surname is real (my ancestors), I have traced the location of both mills and the millstone shrine near Spisska Hanusovce and have traced the ~ 150 year old legend to the current owners of "Lopata Gardens." What I can't find is the original folk tale as it was written and translated by a Vlastimil Kovalcik, a school teaceher from Matiasovce who authored a book, POD ERBOM SEVERU.

Have you heard of this tale or something similar? Any help would be appreaciated

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