The definition of sunday

06.02.2005Osebno

Tonight, I think I`ll dip into the “Glory of Carniola” soup and write a few words about the carnival that goes on every second tuesday of February in Slovenija. The slovene term is “pustni torek”, which would roughly translate into Shrove Tuesday. Basically it`s a pagan ritual which was used to drive the winter away and to welcome spring (I guess that`s not the case this year since the temperatures are meant to drop down to -10, -15 degrees, but it`s the thought that counts, right?). It`s similar to the american Halloween, since the people usually dress up and put on masks and go trick-or-treating around. Masks vary from traditionals, with the most famous of them all, the mask of Kurent (see photo below)

to masks depicting more “usual” characters, as featured below

All over the coutry masked balls are being organised, and ceremonies take place, of the more well-known are the Ball of Cerknica with their famous witch Ursula and the Ball of Ptuj with their even more famous Kurents.

The ritual is basically dressing up and then walking around, ringing doorbells and bringing good luck and fortune to the ones that they give you something in return. Think sweets and other treats. They say that in order to get certain amount of luck, you should (at least) reward the first makara, who comes knocking. Otherwise, the legend goes, you`re fucked. Of course, nowadays, the people walking around are well organised so if you`re not ready for opening your doors five or ten times a day, it`s better to just pretend you`re not home and risk the wrath of the curse (trust me, it`s not half as bad as they say it would be).

The celebrations start a weekend before, as the actually Tuesday is not an official, work-free holiday and they end on Tuesday. Usually with a certain ritual, burning of the Witch or any other character that represents winter.

The main dish for the event are doughnuts and other sweets.

The funny part about this year`s Shrove Tuesday is that it intersects with another major Slovene culture holiday and that is the death-date of our greatest poet, France Preeren.

He lived 1800-1849 and wrote mostly lyrics of romanticism, writing some of the greatest poems like the Sonnets of misery (Sonetje nesree) and A Toast, which we later on adopted as our national anthem. In the past and still today Preeren was and is considered the first and leading poet of Slovenian poetry, acclaimed not only nationally or regionally, but also according to the standards of the developed European literature.

One of the main squares in Ljubljana bears his name and statue – The preeren`s square (above)

So it`s sort of funny, cause on one hand you got a happy holiday with lots of parties and stuff and on the same day you got a somber holiday, the death of our best poet. Should be fun to see how are they going to dress on Tuesday.

In other news, I think I am getting into this “work during the week, rest on weekend” routine a little too much. I slept till eleven o`clock today, catching up the missing hours from the whole week. It was actually a fast weekend (if you sleep till noon, the day tends to speed past you like a bullet) and the results from the exam are getting closer.

Today I also witnessed one of the more sublime journalistic phrases in the history of Slovene journalism as the TV news crew reported that Italians and their new movie about the second world war is casting “a black light” on the Slovenes and their partisan movement in the WW2.

Ahem.

Black light? Right. You can have “bad light”, “black shadow” or something else…but not “black light”. Unless they all joined CSI team and they are talking about an UV light, which is commonly refered as a “black light”. But I cannot imagine how the Italians and their new movie could cast an ultaviolet light on our partisans.

Sometimes I wonder if they hear themselves saying those things. I mean, if they actually know they are saying it wrong or are they sure that…hey…black light…right on! Ah well…as long as they know what they are doing, I guess.