When February rolls around, the oldest town in Slovenia bursts into a kaleidoscope of colours! The town of Ptuj has been hosting the Kurentovanje Carnival for over half a century as of 2019. For a period of ten days, there is nonstop entertainment as the town comes to life. This is done in the spirit of chasing away the winter blues and ushering in a time of rebirth. The streets of Ptuj are lined with parades, music, dances, performances and concerts and locals don traditional costumes.
Laughter and joy wafts through the air, its infectious nature plastering everyone’s faces with wide smiles as they dance through the days and nights.
The carnival consists of three events – Ethnofest, Karnevalfest and Artfest. These represent different aspects of culture.
Ethnofest celebrates the rich Pagan heritage of that region by honouring old beliefs. Traditional masks are worn and dances are performed to usher in Spring and represent the renewal of soil for cultivation. Furthermore, the most significant character, the Kurrent, is heavily represented in the carnival. Legend dictates that it is a demon who chased winter away and called in spring. It is showcased with a mask and fur costume that has a bell attached to it. The streets are lined with thousands of people dressed as the Kurrent in the parades!
Another interesting ethnographic character is the cockerel that ushers in good health and an abundance of poultry. Characters are dressed as seen below and are often with a collector (a farmer!).
Karnevalfest, however, has adopted a modern tone where participants wear masks that reflect the social climate of today! Be it popular culture or political figures, the elaborate masks showcase what the people feel are affecting them significantly.
Artfest takes on the more artistic aspect of the carnival where curated pieces of art based on traditional characters are displayed at Galery Magistrat in Ptuj’s Town hall.
The Kurentovanje Carnival draws a strong crowd yearly, with international visitors flocking in to witness the extravaganza for themselves. However, more than just colours, dance and music, the carnival is a significant part of Slovenia as it represents an intangible aspect of the country.
Cultural heritage allows us to understand where we came from and when we celebrate that, it forges a stronger bond to our roots. That is what makes us unique as individuals from different societies.