Happy Easter 2020!

Hello Everyone!

Wishing you a Happy Easter! Vesele Velikonočne Praznike!

Because of COVID-19, this year’s celebration is a lot more quiet. We watched Mass on TV, no visit or gathering, but we still and try to keep up the traditions as much as we could.

Happy Easter 2020 | AnnainSlovenia@wordpress.com

Happy Easter 2020

Suho meso (dry meat), suhe želodec (stuffed pig stomach), rdeči pirhi (red dyed eggs), hren (horseradish), Potica, homemade bread and of course, lots of chocolate! 🙂

Something funny, my son went straight biting into the meat while my daughter directly grabbed all the chocolates… It was a bit funny to see what was more important to them.

Anyways, happy holidays.
Stay home, stay safe! #ostanidoma

Anna.

Celebrating St. Martin’s Day in Slovenia

Any occasion is a good excuse to open a good bottle of wine, right? On November 11th, St. Martin’s Day, also known as Martinovanje, is celebrated through Slovenia. It is an important event, especially in the wine-producing regions: Podravska, Spodnjeposavska and Primorska region (also known as Goriška and Coast-Karst region).

The Must turns into Wine

It was believed that St. Martin was able to change water into wine. Therefore, on St. Martin’s Day, it is traditionally believed that it is the time when the must turns into wine – an important event for the winemakers. The must, believed to be impure and sinful, is often blessed by a bishop and then, it becomes wine.

Feast of St. Martin

St. Martin’s Day is the Feast of St. Martin of Tours. According the legend, St. Martin was so reluctant to the idea of being appointed as Bishop that he hid in a barn of full of geese. The geese cackled at the disturbance and betrayed his hideout and he was appointed Bishop anyways.

Eating goose became the traditional symbol of the Feast of St. Martin. Although, not everyone could afford to eat goose, many ate some sort of poultry instead, such as duck or chicken.


For St. Martin’s Day, we had turkey with stewed red cabbage. Yum! And the feast wouldn’t be completed without a delicious dessert, right?

Wondering where I found those goodies? It’s from a friendly restaurant near our house: Gostilna Pr’Krvin 🙂

Updates January 2017 – I am sad to announce that Gostilna Pr’ Krvin is now closed.

Until next time,
Anna.

Bonfires on the Eve of Labor Day

Unlike in Canada, Labor Day, also known as the International Workers’ Day is celebrated on May 1st (and on May 2nd) in Slovenia. During this holidays periods, many Slovenians take advantage of the day offs to go on short holidays in Croatia, at the sea or in the thermal spas – you will need to book ahead if you plan to go anywhere during that period.

For those who decided to stay home, celebrations are as promising and interesting!

Impressive and Giant Bonfires

Bonfire on the Eve of Labor Day

Bonfire on the Eve of Labor Day

On the Eve of Labor Day, a giant bonfire – kres , is built in different locations within Slovenia and burnt through the night.

For centuries, bonfires have been used, notably during the Great Turkish War to signalize dangers and attacks to surrounding villages. Bonfires were usually built high and at location where it could be easily seen from afar.

Bonfires have been part of the Slovenian Cultural Heritage since a very long time, for rituals and such.

The significance of kres on the Eve of Labor Day is to remind the workers of their rights to have a day off on the next day!

Nowadays, people gather around bonfires, which are still built in visible location – like a hill, as part of a social event – Kres are often associated with music, drinks and food.

The traditional custom of kres still attracts a lot of people as it is part of the Slovenian culture. Volunteers built the bonfire and firemen light it at the given time. Diligent fireman are present at the site as long as the bonfire is lit to ensure the safety of the event.


In 2007, the Guiness World Record of the tallest bonfire was built in Boštanj to celebrate Labor Day! The measured high was 43.44m!

Bonfire Through Another Lens

Bonfire Through Another Lens

Taking photos of the bonfires wasn’t an easy task, but at least, it was fun trying! 😛

Happy Labor Day from Slovenia!
Anna.

Easter in Slovenia

An important traditional and religious holiday in Slovenia is Easter, Veliko Noč in Slovene. It is the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Beganica

The Sunday before Veliko Noč is the Cvetna Nedelja, the Flower Sunday which commemorates the Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. In Slovenia, each family will gather a beautiful bouquet of branches called Butarica – where I live, we call it a Beganica. On that day, families bring their Beganica  to the Church for blessings.

The Beganica | AnnainSlovenia@wordpress.com

The Beganica

The Beganica is made of branches of 7 different trees, which represents the seven sins. The kind of branches vary slightly from region to region. In Gorenjska, we use oljka (olive branch), leska (hazel branch), vrba (willow branch), bršljan (ivy branch), tisa (yew branch), brin (juniper branch) and pušpan (boxwood branch). A colorful paper ribbon is attached at the top of the Beganica.  Fruits such as apples and oranges are also added to the bouquet.

The Beganica is kept through the year and used during three important occasions: Christmas Eve, New Year Eve and the Twelfth Night.

The Celebration

The Thursday before Easter is called Veliki Četrtek – Maundy Thursday and it commemorates the Maundy (the Washing of the Feet) and the Last Supper of Jesus Christ.

It is believed that to obtain a fertile year of harvest, one shouldn’t work the land on Veliki Petek – Good Friday. It is also a day of fasting.

On Velika Sobota – Holy Saturday, families put their Easter meal into a basket and let it be blessed by the Church. The basket contains suho meso (dry meat) which represents the body of Jesus, rdeči pirhi (red  died eggs) to symbolize his blood,  hren (horserasdish) for the nails that crucified him and the typical Slovenian cake – Potica, along with bread and other pastries as his crown of thorns.

On Veliko Noč – Easter, is a day to contemplate. We usually visit friends and family to wish them a Happy Easter and exchange eggs. The egg symbolizes love and friendship, as well as resurrection.

Velikonočni Ponedeljek – Easter Monday is an official public holiday meant for relaxation and rest.

The Easter eggs

In Slovenia, decorating Pirhi – Easter eggs is an important part of the celebration. The eggs can be dyed any colors, but some have to be red, as it represents the blood of Jesus.

Easter in Slovenia

One of the most famous and beautiful Easter folk-craft is indeed the Pisanice, a delicately crafted eggs from the region of Bela Krajina.


Back in Canada, Easter was just a long-weekend holidays for me, but in Slovenia, the celebration seems much more meaningful. Different culture bring different traditions.

Happy Easter and come discover Slovenia with me,
Anna.

Vuč u Vodo in Tržič

March 11th is the eve of St. Gregory’s day in Slovenia, a special celebration called Vuč u Vodo (luč v vodo in good Slovene) – which means “light in the water”, takes place in Tržič, a town near my home.

St. Gregory the Great

Pope Gregory I, later known as St. Gregory the Great, was recognized for his talents in writing – one of his most famous works is the Gregorian chant. He was Pope from September 3rd 590 (his new Feast day since 1969) until his death on March 12th 604 (his old Feast day).

In Slovenia, St. Gregory’s day, Gregorjevo is the Slovenian version of Valentine’s day – the day of lovers. Old folktales told by grandmothers, babice, say that birds get married on March 12th and announce the arrival of spring. Bird is a symbol of love. Old beliefs say that on St. Gregory’s day, the first bird that an unmarried girl will see as she looks up the sky will tell her who her future husband will be. Believe it or not?

Love Birds for St. Gregory's day

Love Birds for St. Gregory’s day

Vuč u Vodo in Tržič

For more than one hundred years, Vuč u Vodo has been celebrated in Tržič, the town of Shoemakers.

Back in the days, when there was no electricity, special candles were used by shoemakers to light their workshops. As spring approaches, daylight gets longer and candles are no longer needed. The shoes-making apprentices were especially happy about it and to celebrate the longer day, they decided to clean the workshops, like a huge spring cleaning.

Wooden shreds were place into small baskets, lit and put into the stream of Tržič Bistrica.

Nowadays, there are not a lot of workshop to clean, but the tradition remains and is still celebrated. Every year, the kindergartens and schools in Tržič build many little houses as an important pedagogical activity. During the eve of Gregorjeva, everybody will gather in the old town, a parade will start toward Tržič Bistrica – parents and children, with their little houses in hand, will walk to the river, light the house (or the candle) and let it go in the water.

Adorable Small House built for Vuč u Vodu

Adorable Small House built for Vuč u Vodu


This year, Tržič tried to set Guinness Record: 950 houses were built for the occasion. Unfortunately, the event was considered too “local” and it didn’t met the requirement – still an absolutely beautiful sight to see!

Beautiful and Colorful Small Houses in Tržič

Beautiful and Colorful Small Houses in Tržič

Vuč u Vodo is a great way to celebrate the (soon) arrival of spring. Another interesting festival in Slovenia is Pust, a parade that chased winter away.

How is the arrival of spring celebrated from your part of the world? Please share it with me via the comment box! 😉

Until next time,
Anna.

Pust, the Carnival

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

Kurenti Flag in Ptuj

Kurenti Flag in 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!

Parade of Kurenti

Parade of Kurenti

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!

Old Town of Ptuj

Old Town of Ptuj

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,
Anna.

 

Wedding Traditions in Slovenia

As some of you already know, I got married recently to the love of my life (so cheesy). Most weddings I’ve attended before were inclined on Chinese Tradition, therefore I’ve discovered a few “Slovenian” wedding traditions during my own and I would like to share them with you!

The Dress

Choosing the Perfect Wedding Dress is indeed crucial for most Brides. In Slovenia (and in some others countries), the Groom is not allowed to see his Bride’s Wedding Dress until the Wedding.

The Picking-Up of the Bride

“Door Games” are quite common during Chinese Wedding. In Slovenia, when the Groom comes pick-up his Bride, the Father of the Bride opens the door and present him “fake Brides”: first, a broom disguised into a Bride, followed by disguised fake Brides (can be male or female), then the real Bride is presented (to the joy of the Groom).

The Bouquet

I’ve learnt during my Wedding Day that the Bride’s Bouquet has to be protected and watch over by the Bride and her bridesmaids until Midnight (or the Cake Cutting), as every available guests will try to steal it for money! Don’t trust anyone beside your bridesmaids… especially when you go refresh yourself!!

The Kidnapping

In Slovenia, it is quite common that the Bride gets kidnapped by available men during the wedding banquet and the Groom and his groomsmen have to find her before Midnight (or the Cake Cutting). If he fails, it brings bad omen to the marriage…

The Rice

They said the number of Rice (thrown during the Wedding Ceremony) that remain in the hairs of the newlyweds till the Wedding Night is the number of kids that the couple will have! (We had at least 20 grains of Rice left in our hairs, for sure…)


Bonus – this practice is commonly done in small villages (such as ours). If the Bride originates from that village, the neighbors build a barrage, meant to block the newlyweds. After a series of challenges, the Bride and the Groom get the blessings from the villagers and are allowed to get married.


I’ve heard from my mother-in-law (and some older couples), that during their wedding, a camel (men in disguise) with a train of guys joined in their wedding banquet. The camel had teats and the couple had to “milk” the camel. The camel had a bucket for its head, and at the end, the camel dies and the party started.

Anyone heard about that one and know the reason behind it? Or maybe you have some Wedding Traditions that you would like to share with me? Please let me know via my comment box below!

Until next time,
Anna ❤

Happy Holidays from Slovenia!

Happy Holidays Everyone! I hope that you all had a blast and enjoyed quality time with your family, friends and love ones! Some of you were overwhelmed with snow or rain, but here in Slovenia, the ground was still dry and the grass still green – no snowflake for Christmas, we had a green Merry Christmas!


This year, I’ve decided to send out some handcrafted cards. It’s easy, inspiring and fun to do! All you need is paper, hot glue, some sparkles and your heart!

I think the mailing was a bit slow this year, seems like people didn’t get them yet…


On Christmas Eve, some workers were able to get off work earlier to prepare for the celebrations.

In the afternoon, we baked the traditional Slovenian nut cake Potica, whose fillings is mainly made of walnut, lemon zest with a slightly cinnamon flavor. The house smelled so good after!

After, we decorated the Christmas tree, freshly picked from the forest behind the house. Putting the lights and decorations on always gets me into the Christmas spirit! In Slovenia, figurines representing the birth of Jesus are traditionally put under the tree instead of gifts. Since most gifts were received during Saint-Nicholas Day, there weren’t much left for Christmas.

In the evening, we burnt scent and walked all around the house while saying prayers to bless the house.

Being Catholics, indeed, many Slovenians goes to Church for the Midnight Mass.


On Christmas day, we got invited for lunch in Sevnica, which is in the south-east side of Slovenia. Sadly, no snow yet – therefore we had a green sunny Christmas. The lunch was fantastic – seafood salad entrée, pumpkin soup, steak for main course with potatoes side dish and fried chicken. The dessert was chocolate cake with coffee and cookies.

After such a good meal, we needed a walk to digest a little bit. We took the opportunity to hike around and visited the Ajdovski Gradec, above the village of Vranje. It’s one of the most studied archaeological site in the region, reachable only on foot.

The path up is pretty steep, partially made of wooden stairs, but totally worth the walk. Due to the good weather, the view on top was amazing! I was able to see very very far away and it gave me a good idea of the region’s landscape: like the land is never ending.

Beautiful Vineyard in Sevnica, Slovenia

Beautiful Vineyard in Sevnica, Slovenia

Sevnica is also part of the wine-growing region of Posavje, which explains all the vineyards there.


The day after Christmas, December 26th, is not Boxing Day in Slovenia, but the Independence and Unity Day.

In 1990, December 26th, Slovenians had an official referendum, voting for its independence from Yugoslavia.

The Independence and Unity Day is different from the Statehood Day of Slovenia, which is celebrated on June 25th. In 1991, Slovenia proclaimed its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.


On the next day, we had a decent amount of snow. The land and mountains covered with white layers was such a beautiful views.


On New Year Eve, we went to Old Town Ljubljana for the countdown. There were a lot of people, gathered in the Prešeren Square (Prešernov trg) and the Congress square (Kongresni trg), dancing to the music of the live band, shooting small fireworks and sipping cooked wine.

In the slight cold, we walked around while holding hands and admiring, once again, the Christmas decorations in Ljubljana. We stopped by crowded coffee shop for tea and hot chocolate.

At midnight, individual fireworks were sent into the sky by Slovenians all around the water paths followed by the official fireworks from the Ljubljana Castle – what a wonderful way to start the new year!


I wish you all a lot of fun, adventures and discoveries in the upcoming year!

May you all have the best, including lots of joy, health, peace and love!

Until next post,
Anna.

Saint Nicholas Day is Coming!

The weather is getting colder and snow is falling – winter is coming. For the children, the most awaited celebration of the year is just around the corner.

In Canada, I celebrated Christmas with gift exchanges and family gathering, around December 25th. Here, in Slovenia, Christmas is also celebrated, but Saint Nicholas Day, which is on December 6th, seems to be more popular and traditional celebration.

It does make sense, since Slovenia is mostly Catholic.


The magic takes place the night before Saint Nicholas Day, on December 5th.

Saint Nicholas – Miklavž, and his devils – parkelj, is said to go around the houses and visit the children. Gifts will be given out to the children who have been well-behaving during the year, and for those who haven’t been, the parkelj would leave a rod on their doorsteps, for their parents to use to punish them.

And if they have been very naughty, rumors say that the parkelj would put them in a bag and take them away from their parents… which can be pretty scary for small children.

Some villages keep the festivities authentic by having a small group of people, disguised into Saint Nicholas and his parkelj and actually go visit children. Although, catching a glimpse of them doesn’t seem to be easy (as I haven’t seen them yet), but they are said to be pretty impressive – so it’s worth the hunt!


Happy Holidays Preparations! Have you been a good or naughty child this year?

Until next post,
Anna.

Remembrance Day of the Dead

In Slovenia, every first day of November is the Remembrance Day of the Dead – dan spomina na mrtve, or also known as the Day of the Dead – dan mrtvih.

It is a state holiday and many Slovenians take the opportunity to go visit their beloved ones at the graveyard.

Floral arrangements and candles are put in front of the tombs as a token of their visit.

This is a traditional and important celebration in the Slovenian culture.


Curious as I am, I also looked up the Christian calendar because Slovenia is mainly Christians and Catholics. I found out some interesting things.

November 1rst is also a Church holiday – the All Saint Day.

It’s a celebration for all the Saints, but especially for those who does not have their own “Name Day” – therefore does not have a feast day devoted to them.

Name Day

You might be wondering what exactly is a “Name Day” – originating from the Christian calendar of Saints, every day is associated with a specific Saints feast day.

In older tradition, believers who were named after a Saint, would also celebrate on their Name Day instead of their birthday.

That means, the All Saint Day is to commemorate all Saints, but it is also to offer a feast to all other Saints that are not in the Christian calendar of Saints.


If you know, heard of or have similar traditions, please share with me in the Memento box below!

Until next post,
Anna.