House Name, part of a Slovenian Cultural Heritage!

As many of you know already know, I live in a relatively old family farmhouse, with thick rock walls, tons of windows and a wooden roof. We own fields, hills, forest (and a waterfall). We have livestock such as cows, pigs and occasionally chicken.

Last May, we were approached and asked, along with other villagers,  to be part of a very interesting cultural project called “Hišna Imena” – House Name. The main objective of the project was to collect information and preserve the name of old houses.  An intangible part of the cultural heritage of Slovenia.

The Origin

Back in the “old days”, especially in villages, houses were not identified by their home address or current owner’s name. No, they were called by its house name, usually originating from:

  • name or family name of its first owner,
  • profession or characteristic of its first owner or
  • location of the house.

Sometimes, the name of the house was even based on animals, trees or the surrounding crops.

The Importance

A significant and important aspect of the house name is that the structure can have a new address or a new owner, but the house name will always remain the same.  To be passed on from generations to generations.

Unfortunately, with times, farmhouses decayed and people progressively left for the city or so. And slowly, house names were forgotten…

The House Name Plate

Thanks to this on-going project, old houses like ours now have a beautiful name plate, made of clay, proudly displayed and marking the building as part of a Slovenian cultural heritage.

Most house names in Gorenjska (the region I live in) start with “Pr’“- the local spoken dialect for pri , which means “at”.

Our House Name

Our House Name

Our house name is “Pr’ Godnáv“- “At Godnav“, which takes its origin from the family name of the first owner: Godnjov.  in 1859, which is carved above the arc of the main entrance.


It is good to note that not every house has a name plate, only those with a house name before World War II were included into this project. More information can be found here.

Proud to live in an old house!
Until next time,
Anna.

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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.

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

alternate text 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

alternate textFor 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.

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 ❤