One of the most important cultural festival in Slovenia is indeed Pust, the Carnival. Pust is celebrated in every town and city, usually in February or in early March. The Carnival takes place as a great parade in the town’s streets. During the parade, a lot of noises are made to scare away the “horrible” winter.
Kurentovanje in old Ptuj
Slovenian towns and cities celebrate Pust, but the town of Ptuj celebrates Kurentovanje, the grand version of Pust.
The Kurentovanje represents more than a hundred years of traditions and Ptuj has the unspoken mandate to keep the tradition going and alive.
The Kurentovanje is a 10-days long festivity that celebrates the arrival of spring and carries out traditional rituals.
The name of Kurentovanje comes from the Kurant, a key character in the celebration and also the symbol of Ptuj.
The main event of the celebration is a huge parade, always lead by the Prince of Pust and his Royal Court and Guards.
Following him are spearmen, fairies, chickens, pokači (noises makers), šoštanjski koši (drunk man carried in a basket by their wive), and of course, tons of Kuranti!
Kurant, the mascot of Ptuj
The Kurant is the main character and mascot of the Kurentovanje. The traditional Korant outfit consists of a very colorful mask with beautiful ribbons and heavy sheep skins coat with many cow bells around the waist. In his hands, the Kurant holds a weapon: the ježevka, a thin wooden stick with real hedgehog spikes at the top. The Kurant parades the streets, jumping from side to side, makes a lot of noise and chases winter away!
Traditionally, only unmarried young men can put on the Kurant costume.
During the parade, young girls would tie their handkerchiefs around their favorite Kurant‘s ježevka. At the end of the parade, the Korant with the most handkerchiefs is believed to be the most popular man among the girls.
Nowadays, anyone can wear the Kurant costume and anyone can be asked to give their scarf to the Kurant – trust me, they can be quite persistent on it!
Krof, the fat donut
During the celebration of Pust, one of the most popular snacks is the Krof, a puffed donut filled with jam and generously sparkled with white sugar.
There is saying in Slovenia “Pust je masten okoli ust” which literally means “Pust is grease around the mouth” in Slovene. As any carnival, it is quite normal to have a lot of food on the table for the celebrations.
Although, in Slovenia, it is believed that if everyone is well-fed during Pust, then the year’s harvest will be good.
During the Carnival, it is required to give a token of appreciation to the Kurant and his followers (adults and children in disguise) for their help in scaring winter away and their prayers for a fertile year of harvest: sometimes a delicious Krof will be given.
Every year, thousands of people gather in Ptuj in order to participate in the Kurentovanje festivities, others stay in their hometown for the local celebration of Pust. Carnival makes enough noises all around Slovenia that surely the winter will be scared away!
As a matter of fact, winters in Slovenia are really short compared to the ones in Canada… I wonder if it’s really because of Pust? 😎
Until next time,