The Slovenia Times

Slovene folk celebrations (part 1)



People once believed the sun died each winter. Evil spells, spirits and demonic beings, which brought sickness and bad luck, had their maximum power at this time when the sun was its weakest. Various magical and superstitious actions were practiced to protect people and cattle. The most common were burning junipers and giving salt to cattle. On New Year's Eve, primitives would shake everything they wished to have in abundance throughout the year. On the next morning, one followed up by lighting the streams with candles and adorning the fountains. One of the most common rural customs for the New Year has been Koledovanje (carol-singing). Lads visited local people in their homes together with musicians and sang traditional carols to bring people good luck. This custom existed in Roman times and has been a characteristic of various feast days through the year - on various sainted days and on 6th January, the day of the Three Wise Men. Visiting homes on Shrovetide is one of the oldest and widespread celebrations. Though the motive for this Carnival celebration was to chase away the winter and to awaken the spring, it was also a chance to vent oppressed instincts and desires. After all, everything done under a mask is diffused and hidden, but the relief and release is personal. Slovenia's most indigenous and popular carnival masque is Korant from the Ptujsko fields in the eastern part of the country. There is great diversity between the traditional masques of each region and the traditional dishes prepared on those occasions. The celebrations differ too; Borovo Gostuvanje in Prekmurje has carnival weddings, and Laufarji in Cerkno has carnival condemnations. If Carnival expresses the wish for the spring, Gregorjevo, the traditional first day of spring (12th March), brings it... symbolically. People used to believe that little birds got married on this day. Since the day is getting longer, the custom was to launch a light into the water. Though this custom has nearly died out, it is still maintained in Trzic, where children mould boats and little houses and set them loose in the local river. Easter is the biggest Christian holiday, and some pre-Christian elements are preserved in the celebration of this event, like Easter Rumble, which chases away dark spirits. Since Easter comes after Lent, traditional dishes -such as ham, coloured eggs and potica, Slovenian walnut cake - have become indispensable. The painting of Easter eggs, a process called Pirhi, has developed into a well-preserved art. Also, the games with Eastern eggs -- knocking them together, hitting them with coins and dropping them along a board.


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