by Joe Armata
Older relatives pitched in to help her get the job done, and would add in some of their own things to her trunk. And those trunks were not small - they were pretty big! Some of the ones I saw in Liptov county were big enough to hold 2 or 3 grownups curled up inside. That's a lot of weaving and sewing, but linens and clothes inherited from mom and grandma and maybe even some newmade things by her aunts or godmother helped reduce the actual work load.
The Slovaks followed the Hungarian custom of parading the dowry in a big procession from the bride's home to her new home during the wedding festivites, and everyone in the village had a chance to get a good look at her work (and make judgements about what kind of a wife and mother she'll make!). This dowry procession is still done in a few areas, though of course they don't have the dowry trunk of goodies to parade with anymore. I don't know what they substitute for it - whether the bride still has to collect a stash of some Kmart type nice linens and clothes to bring to her wedding, or whether they just borrow and symbolically carry some old folk linens from her mother's day, just for festivity?
Some of the older village women in Slovakia though still have their real dowry chests from their youth, and will happily open them up and show you their handiwork of yesteryear (you'd probably be the first in years to show any interest in all their hard work as a girl!).
The other dowry was the "veno" - this was a settlement give by the family of the bride. It went to her new family, but was in her name so she owned it exclusive of her husband. It was usually property, maybe some cattle or a horse. The idea was to give her a measure of independence in her new household, and to give her a cushion to fall back on just in case. Any income from the property or cattle was technically hers, though of course she'd usually just pool it in with the rest of the family income. The veno usually wasn't given over with the wedding, but was delayed for a year or so after the wedding, often given when the first child was born.
Contact Joe Armata for further discussion on Slovak dowry.
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