Kurentovanje

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Kurents in Ptuj today.

Kurentovanje is one of Slovenia's most popular and ethnologically significant carnival events.[1] This 10-day rite of spring and fertility is celebrated on Shrove Sunday in Ptuj, the oldest documented city in the region,[2] and draws around 10,000 participants each year.[3][4]

Its main figure, known as Kurent or Korent, was seen as an extravagant god of unrestrained pleasure and hedonism in early Slavic, Celtic and Illyrian customs.[5] In today's festival, groups of kurents or kurenti wear traditional sheepskin garments while holding wooden clubs with hedgehog skins attached called “ježevke”, the noise of which is believed to "chase away winter".[6][7] In this way, the presence of kurenti announces the end of winter and beginning of spring.[8] Being a kurent was at first a privilege offered only to unmarried men,[9] but today, married men, children and women are also invited to wear the outfit.[10]

In 2010, the 50th anniversary of the first organized instance of this festival was celebrated.[11] As the host of the festival, the town of Ptuj was admitted into the European Federation of Carnival Cities in 1991.[12][13]

The first "modern" version of the Kurentovanje festival[edit]

One of the first instances of Kurentovanje in 1961.

On Shrove Sunday, 27 February 1960, the first modern version of the festival, called Kurentovanje, was organized in Ptuj, which featured traditional carnival costumes from Markovci lined up in a carnival procession. The procession leaders were spearmen followed by ploughmen, "rusa"—a bear—fairies, cockerels, and Kurents, all dancing to the sound of music played by a local band. The performance and customs of each traditional costume were explained to the gathered crowd via loudspeakers. The event met with tremendous success and aroused general interest which encouraged the organizers to continue.

One year later, the Markovci costumes were joined by ploughmen from Lancova Vas, log-haulers from Cirkovci and mourners from Hajdina. For the first time, carnival (non-ethnographic) groups presented themselves in the afternoon. In 1962 the event reached beyond local boundaries by inviting laufarji ("runners") from Cerkno and borovo gostuvanje ("pine wedding" participants) from Predanovci in the Prekmurje region.

Internationalization[edit]

The international aspect of the event was acquired in the following years when local and Slovene traditional costumes were joined by costumes from Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Hungary, Austria, Italy, Japan and many other countries. The number of participants and spectators grew over the years, with thousands visiting the Carnival events to marvel at the spectacular costumes and take part in the fun.

Kurents at 2014 Međimurje Carneval in Čakovec, Croatia

For many years, the main part of the event had been the presentation of individual traditional carnival groups. This took place either on the Saturday or Sunday morning prior to the afternoon procession.

Extending the festival's program[edit]

In 1994, the festival's program was extended to more than two days, featuring a multitude of events, performances in the square in front of the City hall, the burial of the Carnival, and an entertainment program in the carnival tent. From 1999 on, the Prince of the Carnival event was introduced with the enthronement of the Prince that takes place on 11 November (St. Martin's Day), which has become an important cultural and entertaining event in itself.

During the past few years, the carnival has begun precisely at midnight on 2 February—Candlemas. Budina, one of the mostly rural suburbs of Ptuj, stages the event. This event includes a huge bonfire around which, at the stroke of midnight, Kurents—for this event equipped relatively simply with a chain and five bells and a wooden club—start to dance, thus announcing the beginning of carnival. From this moment on Kurents are "allowed" to make their habitual rounds.

Nowadays it lasts for approximately eleven days, starting on Saturday, a week before Shrove Sunday, when only traditional carnival costumes form a procession on the streets of Ptuj and when the Prince of the Carnival is bestowed the honour of ruling the town during the carnival period. Each day features performances of costumes and many other types of entertainment which take place on the square in front of the Town Hall and in the carnival tent.

Activities culminate on Saturday's procession of traditional carnival costumes, the children's carnival parade, the burial of Carnival and the return of power to the Mayor of the town. However, because there are sometimes fewer days between Candlemas and Shrove Tuesday, this means that other activities are of shorter duration as well. Consequently, this strongly influences the entire program and development of the event each year.

Festival origins[edit]

The idea of an organized carnival event in Ptuj came about in the 1950s, when the carnival costumes, accompanied by a band, spontaneously formed processions on Shrove Tuesday. This event continued to grow, thanks in no small part to Ptuj cultural historian Drago Hasl (1900-1976). Hasl, indefatigable organiser of Kurentovanje from its beginnings until the 1970s, was strongly convinced that this event could help prevent what he saw as the extremely rapid disappearance of carnival habits and traditional customs in surrounding villages. In 1959, Hasl, strongly backed by those who shared both his views and enthusiasm for the event, proposed that the Historical Society of Ptuj take over the organisation and the implementation of the carnival event. He suggested that the event should be named after the most well-known costumes Kurent – and Kurentovanje was born. Hasl prepared a draft regarding the content and outlining the major guidelines to be followed to transform Kurentovanje into an event of ethnographic significance. His vision of an event comprising the unique carnival figures and habits from the Ptuj region, which could be joined at a later stage by other traditional Slovene costumes, helped to make the event grow into a festival of costumes. He additionally planned to expand the content of the event by introducing contemporary carnival costumes.

Kurent or Korant - the main carnival figure[edit]

Kurent or Korant is the most famous traditional carnival figure of the entire region, and arguably, the most recognizable in all of Slovenia. While Kurent groups might not all look exactly the same, it is the most popular and frequent traditional carnival figure in the Ptuj and Drava fields, and in the Haloze Hills.

Kurent or Korant, as it is known today, has its origin in popular tradition. Traditionally, the Kurent's outfit was reserved for unmarried men, but nowadays Kurent-Korant can be unmarried or married men, as well as women, children, and animals.

The two types of Slovene Kurent-Korant are the so-called »feathery« (from the town of Markovci) and the »horned« ones (from Haloze), with the difference being mainly in the look of the head covering. The Kurent-Korant wears a massive sheepskin garment. Around its waist hangs a chain with huge bells attached—the resulting noise does a great job of chasing away winter, which is, ostensibly, the Kurent's function. The Korent also wears heavy boots and special red or green leg warmers, while the head is covered by a towering furry hat festooned with ribbons, and a mask typically sporting a long, red tongue. A wooden club is normally carried in the left hand.

Outside Slovenia[edit]

In 2013, the Slovenian American community of Cleveland's St. Clair-Superior neighborhood began hosting a local version of Kurentovanje. The event is conducted on the Saturday prior to Ash Wednesday.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Kurentovanje in Ptuj | slovenia.si". www.slovenia.si. Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  2. ^ Refresh.si. "Mestna občina Ptuj". www.ptuj.si. Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  3. ^ Stefanatos, Haris (21 February 2014). "Ptuji ready for the traditional Kurentovanje festival". Independent Balkan News Agency. Retrieved 21 January 2016. 
  4. ^ "Kurentovanje - The Slovenian rite of spring and fertility - SNPJ". www.snpj.org. Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  5. ^ "Kurentovanje - The Slovenian rite of spring and fertility - SNPJ". www.snpj.org. Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  6. ^ "Kurentovanje - The Slovenian rite of spring and fertility - SNPJ". www.snpj.org. Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  7. ^ "Slovenia gets ready to 'chase away the winter'". Mail Online. Retrieved 2015-12-21. 
  8. ^ "Kurentovanje in Ptuj | slovenia.si". www.slovenia.si. Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  9. ^ "Kurentovanje in Ptuj | slovenia.si". www.slovenia.si. Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  10. ^ "Znamenito kurentovanje na Ptuju". www.slovenijanadlani.si. Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  11. ^ "Znamenito kurentovanje na Ptuju". www.slovenijanadlani.si. Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  12. ^ "Kurentovanje - Culture of Slovenia". www.culture.si. Retrieved 2016-01-20. 
  13. ^ "Municipality of Ptuj - Culture of Slovenia". www.culture.si. Retrieved 2016-01-29. 

External links[edit]