The Slovenia Times

Santa's Choice



Giving someone a present is a symbolical act and many ancient traditions lie behind it. The person who gives a gift does so for a number of reasons; usually these are love, care, admiration, respect or friendship.
Functional and made with love In December, Slovenians are paid a visit by three good men who bring joy and presents. The first one is St. Nicholas who opens the gift-giving season on Monday the 6th. Children mostly get his presents, and they are usually small and simple, like dried fruit, biscuits, nuts and sweets. The naughty ones may be given a hazel rod to "make them aware" of their isbehaviour. On that day, the adults also prepare small gifts for one another.
For many Slovenians, the central gift-giving occasion in December is the family-oriented Christmas Day, and the presents are much less humble that those given for St. Nicholas. In the era of socialism, the holiday was celebrated in the privacy of homes; later, it quickly became the focal point of the holiday season, together with the imported Santa Claus. Most people give presents to their family members and close friends, some of them also to colleagues at work. According to a small survey and internet forums, they usually buy practical things like gloves, scarves, socks and other clothes, cosmetics, special teas, food and household items. Sometimes they give books. Slovenians also try to listen to the subtle wishes of those whom they decide to give presents to. In general they spend around EUR 130 for gifts, which is mostly the same amount of money as in previous years, but they admit that they sometimes exceed their planned sum.
Many make the gifts themselves; very popular and extremely appreciated are home-baked cookies and cakes, home-made liquors, handmade decorations, all packed in hand-made boxes with a personal note. One of the trends is socially beneficial gifts that are liked to charity and/or are ecologically labelled.
Yet another chance for Slovenians to give something nice is the New Year's Eve, for which the same trends apply as for Christmas. The good fellow who brings presents on that night is the Slavic variant
of Santa called Grandfather Frost Most Slovenians give presents twice in December: for St. Nicholas' Day and either Christmas or the New Year's, while some exchange gifts on all three occasions.
Today one has many options when it comes to finding the right present, especially around Christmas and New Year when shops become flooded with all sorts of products. All try to lure customers to open their wallets and take some products home - some start as early as November. In the seemingly omnipresent holiday consumer frenzy it is sometimes hard to keep one's mind clear, not feel pressured by the flashy glitter that has been put out there to make us spend and still perceive gift-giving as a beautiful and special deed. But even if one manages this, it is still extremely difficult to find a gift that would be special, original, suitable and not too expensive at the same time despite the enormous selection of goods on offer.
From the business perspective December is of course a blissful month. Midas, which falls into the category of "better" boutiques, note increasing demand for perfumes and accessories, especially in terms of exclusive items they sell.
Petra Drašković of Galerija Emporium also reports that December is a peak month but far from the only one - in fashion stores, seasonal peaks are also seen in March and September. As a high-end fashion store they aim for a personalised approach which takes more than just sales and special discounts. Galerija Emporium is particularly interesting, because their store is located in the very centre of Ljubljana, while the "other" Emporium store occupies a large hall in BTC centre at the outskirts. Admitting that shopping at BTC might be easier in terms of accessibility, their store at Prešeren Square comes with a different charm and is therefore opened on Sundays until 5pm, among to attract city wanderers. It focuses on accessories for both genders, and also displays a set of unique designer clothes.
While true wine lovers engage in their favourite tipples throughout the year, it is inevitable that the dose is increased in December. Mateja Štabuc of Vinag says that the sales of wine triple in December compared to the "worst" months. The merry month especially shows more demand for expensive wines, including rare, predicate sorts, aromatic wines and - of course -sparkling ones. Štabuc says he does not like special offers: "We think our price is just! Instead of action sales, we opt for free tastings in shops and events - it's a more thorough and fair approach to the customer." Mateja's ideal choice of Chirstmas gift wines would be a historical Laški rizling 1966; the sparkling Brut of 1998 and Sauvignon 2010.


Guys on Gifts

Shopping is often considered a female business. To counter that stereotype we have asked men how they go about the process of shopping, and about their Christmas gift preferences.

I prefer general shopping in shopping centres because you can find various shops under one roof. This makes shopping more efficient - that's probably a typical male attitude towards shopping! But now and then, especially at Christmas time, I really like to take some time for a "shopping tour". I walk along in the city centre, feel the seasonal spirit and combine shopping with meeting people and having coffee-breaks. This gives me a relaxing time and I enjoy it very much. As gifts I do prefer something that has a certain relationship to the one who will receive it and of course a certain component of Slovenia. Finding a special gift is always hard work, especially when you're looking for something that is a perfect fit for a person. The pure value of money is nothing that counts for me, but the gifted one should feel that the present was chosen selectively.
However, the most authentic gift from Slovenia cannot be taken out of it: nothing can represent Slovenia better than the rich country itself! Therefore I invite friends frequently to Slovenia as a gift, so that they can experience the lovely countryside, the rich culture, and the people. Then they can choose their specific gift from Slovenia for themselves.

Klemens Nowotny, Chairman of the Management Board and CEO, Raiffeisen Bank

Gifts are something very important. Many people believe only in gifts made from materials. Those gifts are great, especially if they bear a real value, especially an artistic value.
But I usually try to give more importance to immaterial goods. Those goods are rarer and are nowadays missing everywhere. A nice gesture, an honest word, a friendly smile, a warm spark in the eyes... These gifts should be spread around us permanently in unlimited quantities, not only at the end of December but every single day of the year. Is this too naive, too idealistic? No, it's not! Those gifts are so nice and, believe me, not at all expensive!

Janez Pergar, Honorary Consul of the Republic of South Africa

Most frequently my loved ones receive presents from my personal collection of creations and paintings. Diverse as my artistic communication is, I always tend to choose an artistic work which - in terms of colour, dimension and the concept - is close to the character and personality of the receiver. In this pre-season period people often visit my private gallery, where they can choose among a wide range of artworks. It is my belief that with a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the receiver's taste and his preferences, we can easily find out what is the most appropriate present for him or her. Apart from a selection of recognised paintings, authentic Slovenian presents can also be the books of contemporary Slovenian writers or DVDs of Slovenian composers and performers. As far as handicrafts I am in favour of Idrija lace. Basically whatever is declared as high quality, special and unique and is the result of the Slovenian creative spirit.
Gašper Jemec, visual artist


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