Labour Day is a national holiday celebrated each year on the 1st of May in over 80 countries around the world. We associate the holiday with the beginning of spring, as well as the celebrating of labourers and working classes. It differs from country to country how people celebrate this holiday, also known as May Day, or as Slovenian people call it - Praznik dela. In Slovenia, the celebration of the holiday is usually accompanied by three main activities – the setting of "mlaj", or a maypole, picnics or gatherings with family and friends and family day trips in nature or elsewhere.
In Slovenia, there are many traditions and customs, which are very important and valued by the residents of the country, for example, Kurentovanje, a festival to announce the end of winter. National Holidays also hold a special place in the hearts of Slovenian people, as they can often spend them free from work and together with their friends and family. Labour Day or Praznik dela is one of them.
Slovenian “mlaj” is a version of the traditional maypole, a tall wooden pole set up at various European folk festivals. In Slovenia, the maypole is a symbol of freedom and labour rights and is set all over the country in bigger cities and small villages. The practice of setting it up goes back 100 years to the year of 1919. A few days before the setting of the maypole, a tree suitable for the occasion is selected and decorated with various ornaments and a Slovenian flag on top. After it is decorated and prepared, the main attraction follows – setting it up. In the old days, almost the entire village was involved in this, but nowadays with modern technology available, tractors and other new mechanism make the process a lot faster and easier. The maypole is usually set up the day before Labour Day, which is also when the famous bonfire party, known as “kresovanje”, takes place in the evening and people have fun dancing, drinking and celebrating the beginning of spring. The biggest bonfire party near Ljubljana takes place at Rožnik hill, which you can attend if you happen to be in Slovenia at the time and have a bit of fun with the locals.
When Labour Day comes, a lot of Slovenian people have a habit of celebrating the holiday in the company of their family and closest friends or neighbours, often inviting them to a picnic, if the weather is sunny. Even larger groups of people decide to go on a family day trip. The destinations vary from museums and underground caves to lakes and other beautiful spots in nature. A trip to the hills and mountains is also a very popular choice.
The main goal of celebrating Labour Day is, of course, to honour the working class and their achievements in the history, but as a lot of people in Slovenia would say, it is also a special opportunity to gather the people that mean the most to us and talk, eat, drink and enjoy their company, whether it be when setting up the maypole, on an outdoor picnic or a day trip.
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