Traditions of celebrating Carnival in Slovenia

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Slovenia holds a long tradition of Carnival celebrations. The door-to-door rounds of Kurenti are a unique feature of the Carnival season and Slovenia and have been as such been put on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Traditions of celebrating Carnival in Slovenia

In Slovenia, numerous Carnival events and parades are held all over the country. Ptuj, Slovenia’s oldest city, holds a long tradition of carnival celebration, featuring unique Carnival masks, Kurenti, which were inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on 7 December 2017. According to folklore, Kurenti chase away the bad spirits of winter by jumping and making noise. If you would like to meet a Kurent up close, visit a traditional Kurentovanje celebration in February, which is considered one of the most interesting carnivals in the world.

Another interesting festival is the Laufarija festival in Cerkno, where Laufarji, the typical characters that wear special masks (larfe) made of linden wood, symbolise the characteristics and weaknesses of particular groups of people. Škoromati, the oldest Carnival masks in Slovenia, come from the villages of the Brkini Hills and the Podgrajsko-Matarsko Plain. If you would like to meet “the Ugly Ones” chasing young people to throw ashes on them and “the Beautiful Ones” visiting homes, dancing, and gathering gifts, join the celebrations in Drežnica and Drežniške Ravni near Kobarid. Don’t miss out the Zagorica and Ponikve Mačkare, where the Carnival customs are mixed with elements of folk theatre. The contrasts between good and evil and “the beautiful” and “the ugly” are shown by the Vrbica Shrovetide Characters near Ilirska Bistrica. If you visit Kostanjevica na Krki, you will be greeted by Šelmarji, and you can recognise them by their metal head known as the Šelma. In Prekmurje, don’t miss the Pine Wedding (Borovo gostüvanje). People used to believe that at least one in the village needed to get married in the period before Shrovetide. If there was no wedding, a symbolic Pine Wedding was held. Another place worth visiting is Cerknica, where a massive parade with Carnival masks is held. Events in Cerknica begin on Fat Thursday with a traditional sawing of the witch. In addition to traditional Carnival customs and figures, carnival festivals are held in many large towns. In Ljubljana, the Dragon Carnival is held and on the coast, the winter is chased away at the Istrian Carnival.

If you are interested in visiting Slovenia, during the Carnival season, fill in the media form and let us know your desires.

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