Easter weekend belongs to the most important traditional holiday in Slovakia, as Christianity as areligion prevails among the Slovak people. On Easter Friday, according to an old tradition, a special service takes place in Catholic churches, with the Passions, or the chronicle of Jesus' suffering being read out or sung and the faithful praying. In Evangelical cathedrals, special services take place throughout the day that include the singing of the Passions and celebrations commemorating the Last Supper. "Easter brings us hope of a new life in terms of our relationship with God and other people, one that we acquire through forgiveness," said archbishop of Bratislava Stanislav Zvolensky. In the Slovak Christian tradition, EasterSunday is considered to be the culmination of the Easter holidays. It is the end of the period of Lent, 40 days observed as a time of penance and fasting commemorating Jesus' fasting in the wilderness. In Slovakia, Easter Sunday -- the day of Christ's resurrection -- is an opportunity to sanctify Easter meals, and a time for their ceremonial fare. "People used to carry ham, sausages, meat-jelly, butter, cheese, and salt as well as eggs, roll, and simnel cakes shaped like sheep to churches, asking for sanctification during a morning mass," said ethnologist Margita Meryova. Among other folk traditions were rubbing cattle with the lard from Easterdinner in order to protect them from snakebite. Monday is the last day of Easter, and in Slovakia, this day is traditionally connected with the custom of bathing or soaking and "whipping" girls and women with a sallow whip. "In the south-west of Slovakia, girls and women are soaked and whipped, whereas in the west they are only whipped, and in the east they are soaked by men," said Meryova. The symbols of this day are water and the painted eggs, which are received for the whipping. There are differences between Slovak regions, which way of decorating eggs they use. Alena Pelechova from region of Zemplin in the Eastern Slovakia is the winner of the contest in painting Easter eggs. Her recipe is very traditional. "I'm inspired by our regional Zemplin costume, which is very rich on decoration and colorful as well. On the shell of egg Idrill small holes and decorate by melted wax with pinhead," Pelechova said. According to Meryova, the whipping with a sallow is connected with the faith in the vital force of fertility and the soakings ensure health and beauty. Young boys receive sweets and money for whipping. As the boys get money for whipping and soaking, they organize a party on Monday evening, where the girls are also invited. There is one more symbol of Easter: lambs. The Slovak ones are usually dedicated to the export. About 100,000 lambs are before Easter exported to Italy, Greece or even Turkey. Slavomir Relovsky, head of the Slovak Sheep and Goat Breeders Association, said a considerable number of lambs stay in Slovakia. "We estimate that some tens of thousands of lambs are sold on the domestic market as well. This has been facilitated via the implementation of new legislation and sales directly from the breeder's farm," he noted.