Kurentovanje is one of the most important Slovenian traditions, known and loved all over the country. It is a carnival event that takes place each year at the end of February and lasts for ten days. The purpose of this carnival is to chase away the winter and announce the start of spring.
The main figures of the carnival are the creatures called Kurenti. In earlier times, these creatures were believed to have the power to chase away the winter. Today, they are represented by men and women, dressed in traditional sheepskin garments and special masks, who are known for running and dancing with cowbells around their waists and chasing away the winter in the process. The main role of a present day Kurent is to preserve this cherished cultural heritage and tradition.
The most famous and visited carnival is the Ptuj carnival called Kurentovanje, which is also the largest carnival festival in Slovenia. The carnival has a long tradition, being celebrated for more than one hundred years in the areas of Ptujsko and Dravsko polje. It is set in Ptuj, the oldest Slovenian city with a glorious castle and interesting history. There are numerous events taking place during the time of the carnival, like creative workshops, displays of old tasks and traditions, musical events and many more. This tradition is not only well known in Slovenia but in other Slavic countries as well. There are also some groups from Croatia, Austria and even Bulgaria participating in the Ptuj carnival each year.
Kurent's mask and entire character have been continually developed and changed over the years. In the old times, they were dressed in a black or white wrong-facing sheepskin, covered with a leather belt or chain. Nowadays, Kurent has a beautiful long-haired sheepskin, and their masks have been purchased in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. In the old times, an even more honourable inheritance than the many bells hanging from the Kurent’s waist, was a special hat, which was an important part of the costume and was transmitted from one generation to another. The fearful appearance of Kurent is also supplemented by a tool called ježevka, which is dressed in hedgehog’s skin. Its significance is not entirely known, but it is considered to be a defensive mean.
If you are visiting Slovenia in February or March, I would warmly recommend visiting Kurentovanje and learning something about this beloved tradition in Slovenia. You will have fun dancing and announcing the end of winter with unique and interesting masks!
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