STA, 24 February 2022 - Traditional Shrovetide carnival festivities in Slovenia that mark the end of winter and arrival of spring have largely been cancelled or heavily downscaled this year due to Covid-related restrictions. However, in light of the recent easing of measures, some towns have decided to go ahead with live events after all.
Shrovetide festivities in Slovenia usually culminate with carnivals and parades during the weekend, and end on Shrove Tuesday with the death of Pust, as the Shrovetide period is called in Slovenian.
Pust celebrations are believed to have their roots in the pre-Christian period, when people engaged in ancestor worship and used masks to mark the end of winter and arrival of spring.
One of these celebrations is the traditional Laufarija festival in Cerkno, the main feature of which are furry wooden-faced creatures called Laufarji (Runners). After a period of uncertainty, the event is now confirmed to be held in-person.
The organisers have told the STA that the traditional festivities will be held on Sunday and on Tuesday, which include a street parade. The general public is invited to attend, with no special restrictions in place.
"A live performance and a street parade are important to preserve tradition. We are old-fashioned, and only seeing the procession live brings the most authentic experience," the organisers added.
Despite the relaxation of measures, there will be no Kurentovanje in Ptuj this year, though a celebratory event will be held online. Before the epidemic, the traditional carnival had been bringing tens of thousands of visitors each year to the oldest Slovenian town.
The local tourism board said it would not be able to organise the traditional parade on Sunday in full scale in such a short time. However, several events have already been organised in Ptuj as part of the celebrations since 2 February, and the organisers said that the upcoming main carnival weekend would be lively as well.
Despite the lack of a grand parade, Ptuj can still expect to see many people during the Shrovetide period, especially this weekend, as people dress up in carnival attire and indulge in fatty and filling foods like cured pork and doughnuts, in accordance with tradition during the Pust season.
One of the few places where a public open-air carnival celebration has been announced is Novo Mesto in south-eastern Slovenia where a parade featuring a programme for children is to be held on Saturday. No other major carnival parades, which were a regular feature of the streets of many Slovenian towns before the epidemic, have been announced for this year.
For the most part, smaller celebrations with a limited number of participants will take place, while traditional Pust characters like the Kurenti, which feature a full-body sheepskin attire with huge cowbells around the waist, will also take to the streets.
On Shrove Tuesday on 1 March, the last day before the start of Lent, Pust will be buried or burnt at the stake, depending on local tradition.