One of the biggest feast days in Slovenia, Christmas has not lost its magic. By Vanda Močnik Kohek, Senior Relationship Manager, GSS Slovenia
December is for me the most magical month of the year, with Christmas and New Year´s holidays approaching, it is full of expectations and wishes. Cities, towns and villages are decorated and beam of coloured lights.
New Year´s Eve is a social gathering, spent with friends at dances in restaurants, theatres or outside concerts, organised in most of the bigger cities in Slovenia. But unlike New Year´s Eve, Christmas is traditionally a family feast, which our ancestors celebrated with heart and soul. For centuries Slovenes, like in other Christian countries, decorate their homes with Christmas trees. At the beginning of this tradition, Christmas trees were hung from ceilings and decorated with different kind of seeds and beans. On closets and shelves, people put apples, pears and nuts as a sign of gladness for a rich harvest in the past year and as a hope for a good crop in the next year.
The Christmas tree we know today appeared in Slovenia at the beginning of the 20th century, first in cities and towns. The countryside started this habit only after WWII.
The Christmas nativity was not known in Slovenia before beginning of 19th century when it became a part of Christmas tradition in towns and castles. Nativity scenes are now widely spread in the Alpine part of Slovenia. They are arranged and prepared well before Christmas Eve. Recently, outside scenes with live figures have become popular, like the one in the Postojna cave or in the village of Mojstrana, close to the Italian and Austrian borders.
Traditional dishes were served on Christmas Eve, such as Potica, a rolled-up cake filled with real nuts, Christmas bread, pastry, pork, sausages and stews.
Christmas gifts reflected a close link with nature, so nuts and fruit were the usual gifts for children. Adults didn’t receive any presents. My mother can still recall that oranges were her most favourite Christmas gift. After the festive Christmas dinner, they would visit a midnight mass in a nearby church as part of a social gathering.
And how is it today?
Christmas is still celebrated within the family. We raise Christmas trees, which are ornately decorated including colourful lights. The menu is prepared well in advance with special dishes to satisfy all different tastes.
We start our meal with a strong beef broth and homemade noodles. Roast pork meat, Potica and another kind of pastry are served afterwards. The visit of a midnight mass is still the tradition. Nowadays people like to visit masses in churches located on nearby hills equipped with torches.
I wish you all can enjoy this magic month and forthcoming holidays. Why not dedicate part of the time you usually spend in shopping centres buying gifts to your dearest? I’m sure that such a Christmas present will be most precious to them.