The time of Christmas lights and hot mulled wine has passed. The days are longer now. The spring is ahead with new hopes and aspirations. On its eve and in the spring itself, several significant holidays are celebrated in Slovenia…

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14 February – St. Valentine’s Day

According to folk traditions, spring is coming on 14 February with the St. Valentine’s Day (therefore, he was also called the “first spring saint”). In the Slovenian lands, according to the old calendar, on this day the work in the vineyard and in the garden began. Initially, the holiday of St. Valentine was celebrated as a Roman Catholic fasting day in honour of this saint. The holiday acquired its modern meaning only in the late Middle Ages, when the idea of romantic love was being developed. It is believed that the holiday was the most popular among residents of the Primorska region. In the settlement of Štmaver pri Gorici, the period of rural holidays in Gorizia begins on the first Sunday after the St. Valentine’s Day. This day is also celebrated with the Festival of Štruklji. The Slovenes started celebrating the St. Valentine’s Day as a holiday of all lovers later – under the influence of a similar tradition that came from Holland.

12 March – St. Gregory’s Day

As they say, the birds are getting married on the St. Gregory’s Day, that is, this day is also associated with lovers. Even when the old Julian calendar was in effect, the Day of St. Gregory – the patron saint of light – fell just on the first day of spring, when it was usually warm. With the transition from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1582, the St. Gregory’s Day was moved back, and today it is celebrated on 12 March. St. Gregory is also considered the patron saint of miners, bricklayers, button and patch makers, pupils, teachers and students. St. Gregory took care of women who wanted to have a child, helped fight the plague, was the patron saint of musicians, singers and choirs. St. Gregory is depicted in the clothes of the Pope, with a crosier, a book, a feather or a dove in his hands.

Meat-Fast Sunday (Catholic Carnival)

The old proverb says: “If jack-straws jump high, the flax will be high, but if they dance like a brick, then the turnip will be big.” On the Slovenian lands, the Meat-Fast Sunday was also called Kurent or Korant. According to the Prekmurje legend, once it was a beautiful young man, who, thanks to his beauty, was constantly pursued by women. Therefore, he fled to the wilderness and prayed to the God that he had distorted his face. The God heeded his requests and made horns grow on his head. The man again went before the people with his new appearance. The young man with a disfigured face was of no interest for women. The visit of the Carnival jack-straws promises happiness and a good harvest.

Easter

The Easter Day is not celebrated on a specific date. Depending on the date of Easter, several other holy days are celebrated, including Carnival. It was decided that Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first spring full moon. That is, Easter can be celebrated between 22 March and 25 April. This is the most important Christian holiday. On this day, Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ – a symbol of joy and hope. According to the tradition, Easter dishes are blessed on the Holy Saturday, which are then eaten on the Easter Sunday. Dishes have a certain symbolism. Dried meat is a symbol of the body of Christ, painted eggs are drops of his blood, horseradish is the nails, and Potica (a nut roll and a traditional festive pastry from Slovenia) is a symbol of the crown of thorns. In Slovenia, this holiday is also called “Vuzem”. There are several traditional games associated with the Easter days: hiding painted eggs (then children look for them), rolling Easter eggs (similar to bowling), beating eggs (eggs are placed on the grass, then coins are thrown to crack them). Mortars were also charged with eggs.

Have a nice celebration!

The article was prepared based on the materials of the Student Journal.

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