Slovaks are a kind and peaceful people that live in a free and democratic country. There isn’t a single topic that would elicit animosity or serious difficulty. Usually, the worst that could happen is that you’d be considered a little obnoxious and the history would be recounted to you over another drink. However, while addressing some subjects, it is important to be polite and attentive.
Keep in mind that Slovakia is a distinct country that has been independent since 1993, when Czechoslovakia was divided into the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic. It is also a ‘new country,’ having been a part of previous multinational nations such as Austria-Hungary and Czechoslovakia for the majority of its history. As a result, certain individuals may be sensitive to nationality problems. There is no animosity or resentment toward the Velvet divorce that divided Czechoslovakia, and the two countries remain friendly. You should be OK if you don’t refer to Slovakia as a part of another country.
Slovakia’s stance during WWII was very complicated, and discussing it with nationalists is best avoided. Similarly, decades of Communism left their imprint on the nation, and this may be a touchy subject. While Slovakia was formerly a member of the Soviet bloc, it was never a part of the USSR or the Russian Empire. Please keep this in mind.
Among the more recent problems, relations with the Roma/Gypsy minority may be tense, and individuals might have strong opinions on the topic. Do not engage in a discussion unless you are thoroughly familiar with the issue and/or are willing to accept the local’s viewpoint. Many locals will believe that foreigners have insufficient knowledge of the reality of these relationships, and you may be reminded of this if you offer a counter-argument.
Slovaks are quite welcoming, and if they welcome you into their house, expect to be properly taken care of and served a variety of food and beverages. If you are invited for lunch, you can anticipate a 2-3 course meal, exactly like dinner, since lunch is usually the major meal of the day. Bringing a modest present for the host, such as a bottle of wine or excellent spirit, a box of chocolates, or a small arrangement of flowers, is considered courteous. Never use money since it will seem as though you are attempting to pay for the hospitality.
For sanitary reasons, most individuals do not wear their outside shoes inside, therefore remove your shoes in the hallway before entering someone’s house. Don’t worry, they’ll locate an extra pair of slippers to keep your feet toasty.
When eating out with the host’s family, it is usual for them to choose the bill. This may not occur, but don’t be shocked if it does.
When meeting or being introduced to someone, even of the opposing sex, and especially for the first time, it is not unusual to kiss each other on the cheek once or twice (depending on the area) rather than shaking hands. It is unusual between two males, but very typical between two females. Don’t be startled, and keep in mind that this isn’t a sexual gesture.