The Slovenia Times

Christmas, a time for family and rituals


A survey has shown that as many as 80% of Slovenians will celebrate Christmas at home with their closest family, and 12% will spend it with relatives and friends. Only 3% of the respondents will use Christmas to go on a vacation.

Especially for Christians, the holiday is a time of internal peace and deeper religious devotion. For Catholics this also includes a visit to midnight mass, while Protestants only attend an ordinary service on Christmas Day.

Archbishop of Ljubljana Stanislav Zore sees Christmas as a test for Christians of their relationship with God, the world and fellow people.

As regards the commercialisation of the holiday, Zore told the STA that it was normal that salesmen wanted to achieve their goal and they always would: "It is meanwhile upon us to preserve a sober mind and only take from that what we need."

The Christmas tree has been a central piece of the holiday for the majority of Slovenians, although it was only introduced under German influence at the turn of the 20th century.

The custom in most parts in Slovenia before that was to hang a tree - spruce as opposed to the now equally popular fir trees - under the ceiling, a tradition that was partly preserved until the years following WWII.

The Communist period also saw the New Year's tree, set up after Christmas, replacing Christmas trees, especially in public places, but this began to change again after 1991. Christmas has been a bank holiday in Slovenia only since independence.

The holiday has seen many other rituals evolve or disappear. Fortune-telling and the casting of spells were for instance widespread on Christmas Eve until the mid-20th century. One of the superstitions was that on Christmas Eve, it was possible to overhear the cattle talking about next year's events.

Especially in rural areas, Christmas Eve dinner, today usually a more elaborate affair, was meatless at least until the 1860s, but it was also customary to eat pork meat and sausages after midnight mass.

Christmas presents used to be modest, consisting for instance of nuts thrown to children, and the exchange of gifts among adults did not begin until the period between the two world wars.

The poll mentioned above showed that today an average Slovenian household spends EUR 142 on Christmas and New Year presents, and 20% of them spend more than EUR 200.

It used to be a tradition not to leave home on Christmas Day, as it was believed that one would bring bad luck to the house visited. While the superstition is no longer present, many still remain at home on Christmas Day.


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