Keeping up Christmas Traditions in Thunder Bay

salonky_200Keeping up a tradition that was begun over two decades ago, Peter Suffak and whomever he could find to help him, decorated the Slovak Tree at the annual International Gallery of Christmas Trees at the Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay.  Each tree represents a different ethnic group significant to the City of Thunder Bay, and a Slovak tree has been on display since the beginning.

The tree is one of a dozen or so which adorn the foyer and halls of the popular hotel. All are festooned in a traditional manner – Danish, Italian, Dutch and others. The Slovak tree shines brightly with silver tinsel  and is covered from stem to star with apples, walnuts and silver and white salonky which are hand-made each year by Mr. Suffak and his crew of volunteers.

“The first year, we used real chocolates inside each salonka”, Peter says smiling, “but by the end of the season, they were all empty!”. So now the men who make them usually use caramels and have plenty of extras.  

Salonky  basically means ‘candy for the salon or parlour’ since that it where one might find the Christmas tree. The significance of the decorations and the general Slovak Christmas traditions are explained for Canadians who are not familiar with these delicious ornaments or the Slovak observance of the holiday.

The Gallery of Trees will be on display until the end of December, 2010.

Photos: (right to left)  Peter Suffak, Jakub Filicko and Andrej Humanaj making the salonky.

Click on any picture below to see the full size and then use the right arrow on the keyboard to advance the photos.

Text and Photos: Angela Mikita Meady


The Canadian Slovak
259 Traders Blvd. East,
Unit 6
Mississauga Ontario
L4Z 2E5 Canada