Bonfire Celebrations

On the evening of 30 April, there will be numerous social events taking place across Slovenia to go along with the lighting of bonfires. This tradition of celebrating international Labour Day is very strong in Slovenia despite the fact that its traditional meaning is no longer in the forefront. The importance of this day lies in the relaxed socialising often accompanied by a musical programme with the venues providing food and drinks at the set up stands. In some places, there are even inns and other catering establishments.

The bonfires are lit annually at the same locations, with the best known being the Rožnik hill overlooking Ljubljana, Jošt above Kranj, Smuk above Semič, Javorovica near Šentjernej and the Snow Stadium under the foothills of Pohorje in Maribor.

World Record Holders

In the last few years, bonfires lit in Boštanj near Sevnica have become much noted. In 2007, they built the highest bonfire in the world, entered into the Guinness Book of Records. It was over 43 metres high and the organisers used over one thousand cubic metres of wood.

The bonfires are usually prepared by representatives of regional trade unions in cooperation with local authorities and they always take safety precautions, as being near flames and lighting open fires can be dangerous. Despite the presence of security guards, caution is required and you are advised against going too close to the fire.

Midsummer Night

Another noted bonfire festival in Slovenia is the one on 24 June in the month of the roses. On one of the longest days of the year, the Slavs in pagan times used to worship the god Kresnik, one of the most important pagan gods. In recent years, a bonfire is lit on the eve of 24 June on Rožnik above Ljubljana as part of the celebration surrounding the Kresnik award for the best Slovenian novel.

The tradition of lighting bonfires in Slovenia does not relate only to these two events, as bonfires used to have a very important intelligence function. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the territory of today’s Slovenia was threatened by Ottoman incursions of plundering, murdering and kidnapping of young Slovenian boys who were taken to be trained as warriors. The villagers lit bonfires on hills to notify their neighbours and neighbouring villages of the impeding danger.
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