In Slovak, Christmas Eve literally means "plentiful eve" and this plenty is reflected in the custom of serving twelve different kinds of meatless festive dishes at a Christmas Eve Holy Supper. The twelve dishes symbolise the apostles of Jesus.
The table on which the feast is served will often have hay placed underneath the tablecloth, to signify the straw or hay in the manger where Christ was born. Many Slovak families will place garlic on the table garlic to ward off bad spirits and demons.
The meal will only begin when the first star of the evening is sighted, again signifying the star that guided the magi to Bethlehem
For Catholic families, fish has become the traditional 'meat' served during Christmas Eve (their scales are said to bring wealth into the house), while Protestant Lutherans will instead have sausage or smoked meats.
Christmas is also the time to eat many pastries and other baked goods, which would have been prepared during December.