In Slovenia there is a strange phenomenon of three incarnations of a bearded old man that brings gifts to children in December. This could have happened either due to the balance of power among the competing ideologies in recent political history, or it could also be a successful plot of several generations of kids making their parents feel guilty about politicising such a wonderful kids’ holiday, which all three of the events are supposed to be.
The first one of the three is the most religiously traditional and often very disciplinary figure of St. Nicholas (Miklavž, or Sveti Miklavž), who arrives on December 5th, with Santa Claus (Božiček), a liberal import from the West and Grandpa Frost (Dedek Mraz), a leftist revolutionary figure imported from the East, following suit later in the month.
Processions are usually organised mostly for Miklavž and Dedek Mraz, and while the timing of Miklavž is always set for December 5 for both gift giving and appearances, Dedek Mraz can be seen throughout the month, although he brings gifts to kids’ homes on the New Year’s Eve alone. Of course there is also Santa Clause, bringing gifts on Christmas Eve, but this old man can mostly be seen in shopping malls.
Miklavž (or St Nicholas) is an early Christian saint and bishop from Mira (then part of the Roman Empire, today Turkey), known for his generosity. As a gift giver he is especially popular in Central Europe, where many churches are named after him, including the Ljubljana Cathedral (St. Nicholas Church).
As a gift giver Miklavž, being a saint, descends from heaven – in the case of Ljubljana that means coming down Castle Hill in the funicular – with a group of angels and devils, the former giving sweets to good children, the latter scaring them with chains and canes so that they wouldn’t be bad, along with some other interesting characters.
Miklavž can be met this Thursday, December 5, 2019 in the following places:
LJUBLJANA: Starting at 17:00 at Krekov trg, from there to Ciril Metodov trg, Stritarjeva ulica, and Prešernov trg
MARIBOR: Starting at 17:00 at Grajski trg
KRANJ: Starting at 17:00 at Glavni trg
DOMŽALE: Starting at 17:00 at Športna dvorana (sports hall) Domžale
CELJE: Starting at 17:00 at Krekov trg
KAMNIK: Starting at 18:00 at Glavni trg, in case of bad weather at Dom kulture
VRHNIKA: Starting at 17:00 in front of Ivan Cankar birth house, then group walk with torches to Sveta trojica
ŠKOFJA LOKA: Starting at 16:50 at Mestni trg/Loški oder
DOVJE: At 16:00 in Aljažev prosvetni dom