The Slovenia Times

Slovenians worldwide celebrate Culture Day

Members of the Slovenian Association of Theatre Actors read poems by poet France Prešeren (1800-1849) at his monument every year on Culture Day, the anniversary of Slovenia's most celebrated poet's death.
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA
File photo

Slovenia is one of the few nations in the world to have a public holiday dedicated to culture and artists. Coinciding with the anniversary of the death of Romantic poet France Prešeren (1800-1849), Culture Day is celebrated both in Slovenia as well as among Slovenian communities abroad.

8 February was designated as Culture Day in 1945 and has been observed as a work-free day since 1991. On the eve of the holiday, two artists are honoured with the Prešeren Prizes for lifetime achievement and up to six win Prešeren Fund Prizes for accomplishments in the past three years.

This time interdisciplinary artist Ema Kugler and painter Herman Gvardjančič will be inducted in the Slovenian art pantheon as the Prešeren Prize laureates (as reported ).

The Prešeren Fund Prizes will go to Trieste-based author Dušan Jelinčič, film and theatre music composer Drago Ivanuša, pianist Alexander Gadjiev, painter Nikolaj Beer, film director and screenwriter Matevž Luzar and the architectural studio Medprostor.

Day for reflection and poetry

On 8 February, many cultural institutions typically open their doors to visitors admission free and cultural ceremonies and events are held throughout the country, many involving the reading of Prešeren's poetry.

The day is an occasion for reflection on Prešeren as a poet and historic figure and on the meaning of culture and language for the nation and the country.

The biggest crowds usually gather for a ceremony outside the poet's birth house in the north-western village of Vrba and for the reading of his poetry at his monument in the centre of Ljubljana.

In the north-western city of Kranj, where Prešeren served as a lawyer and died, a traditional fair is held to transport the visitors back to his time.

Festivities well under way in Austria

Slovenians in Austria will celebrate Culture Day in Carinthia and Styria, with the first event having taken place on 26 January at the regional library in Graz, where singer Nika Solce and translators Ludwig Hartinger and Erwin Köstler presented writers Alma Karlin and Srečko Kosovel.

A live cultural event with writer Ana Grilc as the keynote speaker is due on 9 February at the Austrian public broadcaster ORF's studio in Klagenfurt, a collaboration of the Association of Slovenian Writers in Austria, the General Consulate in Klagenfurt, and two Slovenian associations.

Štrik Theater from Klagenfurt has invited puppet ensemble Tolpa to perform Stari&Drzni, a variety theatre show mixing puppets and stand-up comedy and focusing on old age and death. In Graz, KUD Transformator will stage its puppet production The String That Saved the World.

Three-day celebration in Zagreb

Under the slogan Culture Unites Us, Slovenians in Croatia will have three days of celebrations titled Prešeren Day, with events running in Zagreb and Varaždin.

An exhibition featuring works by six Slovenian visual artists who have received the Prešeren Prize or Prešeren Fund Prize opened on 6 February at the Slovenian Hall in Zagreb, featuring Marjan Pogačnik, Jože Ciuha, Valentin Oman, Tinca Stegovec, Alenka Gerlovič and Živko Ira Marušič.

A screening of a documentary on Prešeren will take place at the same venue on 10 February, while on Culture Day, a wreath will be laid at the Prešeren Memorial in Zagreb to the tune of music and poetry reading. Young Slovenian musicians will meanwhile give a concert in Varaždin next week.

Main ceremony in Italy to take place in Trieste

The Slovenian minority in Italy will have its main Culture Day ceremony on 12 February in the centre of Trieste at Postal Palace celebrating different cultures as the concert of prominent Slovenian composers will be a collaboration of Italy's Friuli Venezia Giulia Orchestra and Slovenian conductor Tomaž Kukovič.

The concert, organised by both umbrella minority organisations, SKGZ and SSO, together with the Josip Pangerc Central European Institute of History and Culture, will also feature tenor Gregor Ravnik, pianist Blaž Avsenik, choirs Jacobus Gallus and Devin, as well as 4 Bellows 4 Tales, an accordion quartet.

Another major event will take place at the Cultural Centre in Gorizia, where a documentary about Slovenian culture will premiere, featuring a discussion between Miran Košuta, a Slovenian writer from Trieste, and Andrea Bellavita, an Italian journalist and writer from Gorizia.

An event featuring five women - harpist Maja Locatelli, actress Nikla Petruška Panizon, singer Tamara Stanese, sculptor Zalka Arnšek and writer Evelina Umek - is scheduled for next week in Trieste.

Poetry, Pannonian houses and Shrovetide in Hungary

Prešeren poems will be read in Szentgotthárd in a collaboration of the Slovenian Consulate there and the Murska Sobota unit of Slovenia's Education Institute, while an exhibition of Pannonian houses typical of the area will open at the Lipa Cultural and Information Centre.

On 18 February, Borovo Gostüvanje - a peculiar mixture of wedding and carnival customs - will be organised by minority organisations in Apátistvánfalva. According to the consulate, the custom, which nurtures Slovenian culture and traditions, has been listed as intangible cultural heritage in Hungary since 2015.

Culture Day will also be celebrated at bilingual schools in the Raba valley, and in many other countries in the world where Slovenians have found their home, including in the US and the UK. Roughly half a million Slovenians or people of Slovenian descent live around the globe.

Culture Day and Kurentovanje in Cleveland

The largest Slovenian community in the US, in Cleveland, celebrated Culture Day at St Mary of Assumption Church on 5 February, which attracted a crowd of some 130 people and which also served as a prelude to Kurentovanje or the Slovenian Mardi Gras Festival.

Moderated by Joe Valencic and Luka Zibelnik, the event featured a concert by Martin Marsic, Tony Hocevar and John Nemec. Gaja Višnar recited Prešeren's poem Water Man in Slovenian and English, and Isabelle Kralj and Mark Anderson of Theatre Gigante recited poems by Srečko Kosovel (1904-1926) in both languages.

Edo Ferrazzoli and Martin Marsic performed Johann Strauss's Tritsch-Tratsch polka, while professor Timothy Pogacar read excerpts from The Visoko Chronicle by Ivan Tavčar (1851-1923).

As is tradition the Culture Day ceremony is held in prelude to Kurentovanje, which has been organised in Cleveland since 2013. This year it will start on 11 February and wrap up with a big parade on 18 February.


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