Kurentovanje

Ptuj’s main street is lined with folks from all over Slovenia to witness an annual cultural treasure: the parade of Kurentovanje.  Children dressed as tigers and superheroes and fairies grasp the bars of the crowd barriers, peeking through the gaps to watch as hundreds of characters in masks and costume proceed down the city street.   These masks inspired by ancient tradition and are worn by local folklore groups as well as national and international participants.  The most renowned of the masks and the namesake of the festival is the kurent (also called korant), a demon which is said to chase the winter away while awakening nature to springtime and growth.

Situated the oldest city in Slovenia, this parade occurs on Carnival Sunday near the closing of the ten day Kurentovanje festival.  This event witnesses the gathering of folklore groups from Slovenia and surrounding countries to celebrate cultural and ethnographic traditions.  Each character tells a different story, celebrates a different ritual from the region.

Kurenti are the most renowned characters of this carnival celebration.  With their sheep skin coats, white bean teeth, and leather masks topped with leather horns strung with colored ribbon, the kurenti are responsible for scaring the winter away.

Kurenti are joined in the procession by many other characters.  The spearmen  always leads the procession.  These men dressed in tailored suits with ribbon-adorned spears in hand often toss their spears into the air and dance in a ring while they parade down the street.

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Log haulers traditionally haul a log through their village when no marriage occurs before carnival time.  As the log is hauled down the street, young and loggers continuously saw away to give pieces of the log to young unmarried women.  The log is covered in fir tree branches and colorful ribbons, much like those of the Kurent and  Spearman.

The trough is a ritual in which young men disguise themselves as women and pull behind them a straw bride sitting atop a trough.  Tradition has it that the straw bride is offered for marriage to each young single main living in the village.

Ploughmen plough a defensive magic circle around their village.  They also plough symbolic first furrows to announce that the time has come to work in the fields.  Ploughmen in the Kurentovanje procession are preceded by a Kurent and followed by a whip-cracker and donation-collector.

Villagers from Dornava at Ptujsko polje have dressed as gypsies for decades and create a light atmosphere during the procession.

The devil wears a mask much like that of the Kurent but without ribbons.  He wears red overalls and carries a fork in hand and a fishnet on his back to catch souls.  The devil ensures smooth procession for the Kurents.

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