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Like other nations, Slovenians have several unique traditions. In the spring, they bless their motorcycles and in the autumn they prepare a celebration dedicated to cows returning from the mountains. Each year they select a Wine Queen of Slovenia, and they show their love of potatoes at the International Festival of the Roasted Potatoes. These interesting traditions maybe tricky to understand if you are not Slovenian!
The Cow Ball started as a small celebration where shepherds were honored after returning from the mountains and bringing the cattle back to the village. Later, the celebration became an event where locals of the Bohinj Valley gathered every year in mid-September. Over the last 60 years, the Cow Ball in Bohinj has become a well-known event and has been attracting visitors from all over Slovenia and the world. The shepherd’s return is celebrated with folk music, group performances, accordion orchestras, brass bands, delicious local food, and Slovenian wine.
The tradition of lighting bonfires in Slovenian territory goes back hundreds of years. Throughout history, the reasons for bonfires have changed. In the past, they were used as a tool in mystical rituals to help the sun gain more power in the spring. Since 1890, when the world first celebrated Labor Day on May 1st, bonfires were lit the day before to serve as reminders of worker’s rights. Nowadays, bonfires are still lit all over Slovenia on April 30th, but not as much as a tool for the worker’s unions, but more as a social event.
Every spring, towns around Slovenia host the Blessing of the Motorcycles. Events are organized by the local Moto Clubs, and they vary in size. At the smallest events, only a couple of motorcycles are blessed, and the larger ones can bring together up to ten thousand motorcycles. The bikes are blessed by priests in the hope of a safe driving season.
Slovenians are predominantly Roman Catholic and the tradition of christening children is still upheld. At the christening, the child is given a saint’s name chosen by his parents or the godparent. Each saint has a dedicated date in the calendar, and on this date, the individual celebrates his/her Name Day. In the past, especially in the rural areas of the country, a Name Day was celebrated instead of a birthday. Throughout the years, Name Days have lost some of their importance and today are mostly celebrated with a small gift from immediate family members.
November 1st marks the Day of the Dead in Slovenia. On this day locals pay respects to the deceased by visiting the cemetery where they light candles and bring flowers to the graves. Many people also visit family members they don’t usually get to see throughout the year. Around midday, locals visit the cemetery in silence, and after the priest is done blessing the graves, families gather together for a small meal. These traditions make The Day of the Dead one of the most important family holidays in Slovenia.
In the rural areas of Slovenia, it is still a tradition for the groom to pick up the bride from her house on their wedding day. On the way to her house, the local young men prepare Šranga (a wooden obstacle), to block the road and stop the groom from getting to his bride. When he arrives at the obstacle, he is given two options. He can either pay the local men or saw through the Šranga. Once he makes his way through, the young men try to trick him again. At the bride’s house, they dress an older person in the wedding dress, and they try to pass him/her off as the bride. Again, the groom has to pay in order to get the bride and to get married.
Every year Slovenians pick a Wine Queen. Her duties are to promote Slovenian wines, different wine regions, and the countries long wine producing tradition. A panel of judges picks a queen from the young, single, contestants who need to be knowledgeable about Slovenian wines and wine in general. They also need to have an extensive knowledge of proper wine serving and wine tasting etiquette.
For the past sixteen years, The Society for Acknowledging Roasted Potatoes as The Main Course has been organizing the International Festival of Roasted Potatoes. What started as a small gathering now brings together thousands of roasted potato lovers from Slovenia and abroad. Each year the festival is held in a different city, where restaurants and organized groups prepare the potatoes in over thirty different variations. As befits, the roasted potatoes are served as the main course and meat is added as a side dish.