Carnival: “Kurentovanje” in Slovenia

Slovenia gets ready to ‘chase away the winter’ in an annual celebration, locally known as Kurentovanje. To celebrate the end of winter, locals wear traditional masks and costumes to scare off winter in the ‘pust’ or carnival which has been going more than 50 years.

The country’s best known carnival figures are ‘kurent’, originating from the town of Ptuj, ‘laufar’ from the village of Cerkno, and ‘škoromat’ from the village of Hrušica.

Kurent or Korant is the most famous traditional carnival figure, and wears huge sheepskin garments and a chain with large bells attached to create noise. They also wear heavy boots with red or green leg warmers and a towering hat, festooned with ribbons and a mask, typically with a long red tongue. The Kurent also carries a wooden club, which is used to collect hankerchiefs, given by girls and women as part of the festivities.

The celebrations take place over 11 days in Ptuj, a small town in northeastern Slovenia, with the main parade taking place on Shrove Tuesday. Parades will also take place in several other cities around Slovenia. The Dragon carnival traditionally held in Ljubljana consists of a large Shrovetide carnival parade through the city’s streets and a programme of entertainment held in the centrally located Congress Square.

Numerous events are staged and more than 100,000 people are expected to join the celebration this year. The real carnival days are two: Shrove Sunday and Shrove Tuesday. Costumes may take center stage in carnival festivities that will peak on Saturday.

Habits and customs are usually associated with food, which is an indispensable part of the tradition. Even today people in costumes going door-to-door, the Slovenian version of trick-or-treating, accept donations of either money or food, preferably sweets. The most traditional Slovenian carnival food is doughnuts typically filled with apricot jam, or flancati, made with the same or different dough but a different shape and without the jam.