The Slovenia Times

Candle-lit boats hail arrival of spring on eve of St Gregory Day

Mar 11

To mark the start of spring, children in several towns and villages across Slovenia will release candle-lit miniature boats and houses into rivers on the eve of St Gregory Day, the Slovenian version of Valentine's Day.

This symbolic as well as an eye pleasing ritual celebrates the victory of light over darkness.

St Gregory Day, celebrating the arrival of spring, and love, is named after a sixth-century monk who became pope. He is known for many acts of kindness and remembered as the patron saint of schoolchildren and scholars.

On his name day birds are said to be joined in wedlock.

In the past people hung baked goods in the trees and bushes on this day.

In the early 20th century, towns with a long-standing tradition of crafts and trade such as Tržič, Kropa, Kamna Gorica and Železniki believed that St Gregory "tosses the lamp into the water" as the day becomes longer and artificial light is no longer needed in workshops.

Events featuring the release of gregorčki will be held throughout the country, including Vrhnika, Tržič, Radovljica and Ljubljana, where the little candle-lit boats will be released into the Gradaščica near where it flows into the Ljubljanica (1pm tp 8pm).