Carnival celebrations in Slovenia

Fri, 22/03/2024

In Slovenia, the Carnival season is joyous, loud, and colorful, as Carnival events and parades are being held throughout the country.

Pust (the Slovenian word for Carnival) is one of the most important cultural festivals in Slovenia and it is celebrated in every town and city. It is believed to date back to the days of early Christianity. The date of the holiday is not fixed, so it can take place in either February or March, always on a Tuesday, 47 days before Easter (Shrove Tuesday).

Pust is also associated with the end of winter, and during Pust's parade, which takes place throughout the town's streets, many noises are made to scare the “horrible” winter away.

Though traditionally seen as a part of the liturgical calendar, set before the fasting began, Carnivals also include many elements that stem from pre-Christian traditions. Carnival was therefore not only the last opportunity for people to indulge in meat and other animal products, but it was also a manifestation of folk culture that included masks, various rites, and celebrations.

When it comes to masks, many traditional masks in the Slovenian countryside (and elsewhere) have been preserved over the centuries, with the most famous one of these being the kurent.

The kurent is Slovenia’s most celebrated Pust character. The origins of this ethnographic character are unclear, while the main theories include connections to the Illyrian, Celtic, and Slavic traditions. Hopping and rutting, he chases away winter and evil from the land and ushers in the warmth and light of spring. He is also associated with fertility and abundance and is believed to bring good luck and prosperity to those who honor him. The kurent originates in the area around Ptuj and Dravsko Polje on the left bank of the Drava River, but is also present in Haloze and Slovenske gorice on the right bank.

The kurent wears a costume called kurentija, made of sheepskin, with cowbells attached to his waist and a terrifying face mask. According to folklore, there must be five cowbells to get the right melody. A long red tongue sticks out of his mouth, and the face mask has two cow horns or two thin sticks, which are decorated with colorful ribbons or feathers. The Kurent wears leggings, which are most commonly red. In his hand, he carries ježevka, a thick wooden stick, the end of which is wrapped in prickly hedgehog skin.

Carnival Food

Carnival has always been considered the time of the year when eating is necessary! Carnival food has to be as greasy, fried, and as sugary as possible. Pork, as a sign of prosperity and luck, in the past was always served on the Thursday before Lent (Fat Thursday).

Nowadays, the carnival season is mostly associated with fried desserts like krofi or doughnuts and fritole or miške.