Slovenia: Kurent, Masks and Traditions
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The annual festivals mark the Shrovetide
(Tuesday before Ash Wednesday -
initiating the forty day period before
Easter). They are celebrated for ten days
up to Shrove Tuesday.
This period of the year is celebrated throughout central and western
Europe, and is called "carnival“. Carnival is also enjoyed throughout all
of Slovenia.
There are more than 170 different traditional characters and masks in
Slovenia. They all have a similar purpose: to chase away winter and
bring the prospect of an abundant harvest.
Each region has its own characters.
One of them is for instance the “PUST”
who personifies winter and is guilty for
all the bad deeds in the town during
the last year, so it is executed
according to a precisely defined script.
Kurents are the most popular
carnival figures in Slovenia.
According to legend, they chase
away winter with their bells and woo
spring, but they are also famous for
chasing girls.
Kurent, also known as Korant, is the
central figure in Kurentovanje, a rite
of spring and fertility which may date
to the time of the ancient Slavs.
Kurent has been mentioned as a god
in Slovenian folk-mythology.
The Kurents - formed in groups - are dressed
in sheepskins with cowbells dangling from
their belts or chains. On their heads they
wear huge furry caps decorated with
feathers, sticks or horns and colored
streamers. The leather face masks have
eye-holes outlined in red, long trunk-like
noses and enormous red tongues that hang
down to the chest. They wear hair made
from horse-tails.
The Kurents move from house to house in procession. They continually whirl and jump from
side to side to sound the bells and chains they wear.

Different and ancient customs prevail throughout the villages; such as:

- before the Kurent arrives at the house the housewife throws a pot from the attic at the first
person who visits her in the day. This is according to an old belief that this will help the hens to
lay eggs.
- The Kurents carry a basket to collect gifts from the households.
- A devil (hudicc, zlodej, vrag) accompanies the Kurent, dressed in all black or red, and is
covered by a net to catch souls, leads each group.
- Young girls present Kurents with handkerchiefs which they then fasten to their belts, and
housewives smash clay pots at their feet for luck and good health.
As you can see I was pretty close to the Kurents while I was taking these photos and this is the last one I could take because
they started to chase me.
My surprised friends, that were politely standing off the road and watching the carnival, suddenly saw me running by, a
group of Kurents right behind me…
Fortunately they could not run very fast due to their heavy costumes and I got away safe and sound. Fortunately!!!