The Slovenia Times

To Us, A Toast!



Although France Preseren died a poor, lonely man, he is still remembered daily for his poem entitled Zdravljica (A Toast), which is now Slovenia's national anthem. France Preseren was born in Vrba, Upper Carniola, on December 3rd, 1800. He spent most of his life in Slovenia and was very much attached to it. After returning home from Vienna where attended school, he never left the country again. He was well-educated and studied law with the hope of opening his own practice. In 1825, Preseren wrote his first poem, Zarjovena d'vicica (The Rusty Virgin). In the ensuing years he began to concentrate more seriously on his poetry and while he wrote quite a number of poems he burnt most of them because of stern criticism from Kopitar. Preseren's first published poem was Dekletom (To Girls) and it appeared in the German-language newspaper - Illyriches Blatt (Illyrian Sheet). In December 1846, his book Poems was published, the key literary work of the time and of Slovene literature in general. There were 1,200 copies printed, bearing the year 1847, and the book sold relatively well for those times. France Preseren died in Kranj on February 8th, 1849 as a result of cirrhosis. Two days later, the poet was solemnly laid to rest in Kranj. In 1944, the Slovenian National Freedom Council proclaimed the 8th of February as a Slovenian national cultural holiday in his honour. In 1992, the Bank of Slovenia also honoured Dr Preseren by issuing a 1000 tolar banknote bearing his image. However, the greatest tribute came in 1994 when the Slovenian National Assembly voted overwhelmingly to adopt Preseren's Zdravljica as the official Slovenian anthem. Planica is the cradle of both ski jumping and ski flying. On February 4th, 1934 a new ski jump in Planica was officially opened and was immediately nicknamed "the mammoth" as the device enabled jumps of up to 70 metres and had the capacity to enable jumps of around 80 metres, an amazing distance in those days. Since 1934, hordes of competitors have flocked to Planica to try and break the world record. In 1984, the Winter Olympic Games were staged in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, the first and only time that a Socialist country has held this event. The people of Sarajevo gained high marks for their hospitality, while skier, Jure Franko, brought joy to the host nation by earning Yugoslavia's first ever Winter Olympic medal: a silver in the giant slalom. The 14th Winter Olympic Games were closed on February 19th, 1984, with absolutely no indication of the tragedy that would engulf the city only a few years later.


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