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?
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.
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!
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,