After a two-year break caused by the mandatory COVID-19 lockdowns, the popular Christmas markets returned to town squares across Slovakia. This time around, the managers of the stands had another issue of concern to deal with -- inflation.
The pre-Christmas period is traditionally dedicated to buying gifts and visiting the Christmas markets, which pop up in the center of each town in early December and end before Christmas night and are comprised of various stands offering food, drinks and local crafts.
Prolongation of the Ukrainian Conflict Hinders Global Recovery
This year, the markets in Bratislava were open between Nov. 25 and Dec. 22.
The most popular food here by far was the so-called Gypsy roast -- fried chicken or pork meat in a bun with fried onions and mustard. The so-called lokshas were also popular: potato and flour pancakes that come plain, greased or filled with duck liver, duck meat, or various sweet fillings.
Mulled wine was the beverage of choice, keeping visitors warm during the cold evenings.
The prices tend to be relatively high in these markets, but this winter, the high inflation rate left some visitors just enjoying the atmosphere and smells without spending any money. Inflation has hit 20-year highs in Slovakia, nearing 16 percent.
Vincent, manager of a food stand at the Bratislava Christmas market, said people were seemingly happy to be back, adding that he also hoped that better times will come after the pandemic-induced lockdowns.
He said he also noticed that many people were taken aback by the increase in prices and were intent on keeping their money in their pockets. "They won't spend a hundred euros at one stand but go for smaller portions of different kinds of food instead."
Peter, manager of a food stand, said that since their costs have increased, they also had to increase their prices.
Anna, a passer-by, told Xinhua that the higher prices affected their budget for a household of four, and they can definitely feel it as the increase is not in cents but in euros.
"The Christmas market is more about the atmosphere. But I see a lot of people just walking around and thinking about what to buy. The taste buds are ready, but the purse is not always full. We have to adjust to that. We bought mulled wine today but no food," she said.