The Slovenia Times

Prekmurje celebrating in diversity

A ceremony marking Prekmurje Reunification Day.
Photo: Boštjan Podlogar/STA

Known for its hospitality and multi-cultural character, Slovenia's northeastern-most region of Prekmurje celebrates the 104th anniversary of its being unified with the homeland on 17 August.

Unification of Prekmurje Slovenians with the Mother Nation has been celebrated as a public but not work-free holiday since 2006.

Located east of the River Mura, the region had been a part of the Kingdom of Hungary for nearly a thousand years, while the remaining Slovenian lands were under Austrian rule. When the Austro-Hungarian Empire was created in the 16th century, Prekmurje still remained under the Hungarian part of the monarchy.

But the empire collapsed after the First World War and the 1919 Paris Peace Conference decided that the region should become a part of the newly established Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

The royal military occupied the region on 12 August and five days later, the civil authorities took over. It was on that day that more than 20,000 people came together to celebrate in the square in front of the church in Beltinci after Sunday mass. In memory of this day unification is celebrated.

More than 77,000 people live in Prekmurje on a surface area of nearly 950 square kilometres of what is mainly flat agricultural land dotted with villages.

The people of Prekmurje are known for their hospitality as well as for their unique dialect, which people from other parts of the country often find difficult to understand.

Despite the ethnic and religious diversity that has defined them through centuries, the people in this part of the country have managed to find a way to live together in harmony.

Today, the region comprises three major ethic groups, Slovenians, Hungarians and the Roma, and the main faiths are the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Protestant churches. There are also many other smaller ethnic and religious groups.

Roma communities in the region enjoy much better inclusion in society in the region than in other parts of the country.

The region's multi-cultural character was highlighted as Slovenia's most senior officials paid tribute to Prekmurje on the unification day.

Cultural diversity and multi-ethnicity have never been an obstacle for Prekmurje, President Nataša Pirc Musar said. Instead, they are a part of the hundred-year character of the region and heritage of the people who founded their existence on common values, she added.

She finds the region remains a symbol of harmony and cross-border cooperation and thus a role model to Europe and the world.

Similarly, Prime Minister Robert Golob said that the harmony in which different religions, minorities and nationalities live in Prekmurje set an example not only to Slovenia but to entire Europe.

"This year's celebration ... comes at a time when the country and its people are facing the consequences of a severe disaster. At a time when solidarity, unity and mutual help and support are being tested," Golob said. He stressed that, as always, in these difficult times for the country, the Prekmurje people are proving day after day that they can join forces when necessary.

While the main ceremony marking Unification of Prekmurje Slovenians with the Mother Nation is being held in the Prekmurje village of Hotiza, a ceremony was also held in Ljubljana on the eve of the public holiday in a square named after the region.


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