Carnival is coming this weekend, also in Slovenia. When I first got together with Bine, I didn’t know that carnival was also celebrated here. I’m from Limburg where the Dutch carnival is celebrated very abundantly, so I’m used to a lot of carnival, haha. Of course, it’s not really comparable to the way they celebrate it here, but I was happy to learn that they have carnival here as well. Especially once we came to live here and the children were still young. What could be more fun for kids than dressing up? Our kids have always enjoyed it :).
There are quite a few differences in carnival here and in the Netherlands. In principle, only Tuesday is the actual carnival here and not like in the Netherlands from Saturday to Tuesday, so 4 days. In addition to the carnival on Tuesday, they also have “pustna sobota”, or carnival Saturday, the day that carnival starts in the Netherlands. On that day, there are parades and other fun things for children in various places all over the country. The parades are less grand than in the Netherlands, but the principle is the same. Some parades are also held on Sundays. Carnival Tuesday is not a day off like in the Netherlands, so that’s why there are no events on that day. This year, however, Carnival falls again during the school holidays, so the children are free. But that also means they can’t celebrate carnival at school.
Carnival in Slovenia is irrevocably linked to the »Kurenti«. This old tradition comes from the region around Ptuj where people celebrate carnival the biggest, but you can see it in many other parts of the country as well. Kurenti are dressed in a big heavy goatskin suit with a cowbell around their waist and large masks on their heads with a long red tongue hanging out and large horns on top. Often it is a group of about 15-20 people and by jumping and dancing around they make a huge noise with all of those cowbells. The tradition was meant to drive out winter and invoke spring. I found it quite impressive to see the Kurenti »live« for the first time. You can hear them coming from afar :).
Here they have the habit that on Tuesday afternoon/evening the children go door-to-door dressed up to collect candy, fruit, or money, comparable to the American Halloween. In our village, they also have the habit of a group of adults (villagers) in costume visiting all the houses on Tuesday evenings. They come inside for a while, and the intention is that the residents at home guess who is hiding behind the different masks. Of course, the group is offered a snack and a drink everywhere, often in the form of a shot of some sort of alcohol, so some are quite hungover at the end of the tour :). I’m actually not sure if that’s the custom in other parts of the country as well. Be sure to let me know!
Another carnival tradition is eating »Krofi«. You can get this delicacy all year round, but they are a must at carnival, and they are often baked at home at this time. A krof is a bit of a mix between our Dutch oliebol and the American donut. The original Krof is an airy ball of dough that is fried in oil, then injected with jam, usually apricot jam, and then dusted with icing sugar. Nowadays, you also have all kinds of variants, such as krofi filled with chocolate or vanilla cream. Some have a chocolate coating on top or a pink glaze. In any case, they are extremely popular around this time, and they are especially delicious :).