This is a slightly different Meetup - I admit it's a bit personal for me, as it is one of my favourite festivals and one that I really miss from back home. I would like to kindly invite you to the first one that will take place in London.
SLOVENIAN SHROVETIDE CARNIVAL, PUST
Slovenia is a tiny, but very beautiful country bordering to Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. Despite its mini size it has a very rich culture, hundreds of dialects, good wine, pretty lakes and mountains, Lipizaner horses, fantastic caves, lovely nature… and PUST.
As far as I remember from my childhood, the two main things about Pust are masks, home made freshly cooked doughnuts (still warm), and great fun. So, what is it about?
The carnival was celebrated in pre-christian times and was adopted by Romans. With the carnival the Winter is chased away and Spring is welcomed. It was so popular that the newly established Church was not able to abolish it, so from10th Century onwards the it decided to finally adopted it and move it to Shrovetide, in time of 40 day fasting.
The word Pust probably originates from old word “mesopust” meaning “to leave the meat out” (to fast), which is direct translation from italian expression “carneleva”. It is quite obvious where the word “carnival” originates from. The Carnival is popular in many Central and Western European countries and each of them has its own specifics.
So, what happens at Pust Carnival. It is the time for tomfoolery and fun, practical jokes and tradition. Usually people make loads of doughnuts with jam, somewhere they make ‘flancati’, and children go from house to house singing, presenting themselves, wishing people good luck and trick-and-treating.
On Saturday before the Shrove Tuesday the masked people walk around, children trick-and-treat, sing songs and people tend to behave quite silly. On Shrovetide Tuesday there is usually a promenade of Pust - the Carnival Prince, and the masks. Pust is normally a big mascot, made out of straw and dressed up in clothes (I have also seen a Pust made as a caricature of a politician, recently).
The unmissable companions of Pust are Kurenti, especially known in town of Ptuj, and Laufarji (quite different in appearance from Kurenti) in Cerkno. They are so special that they actually have their own celebration called Kurentovanje. The Kurent masks probably originate from pagan times. They are strange creatures - dressed in sheepskin from head to toe, with long red tongues sticking out of their long wolf-like mouths. They wear colourful ribbons attached to their horns and a large belt around their waists on which they hang a bunch of large cow bells. Their ears are made of bird wings or animal skins. On their legs they have green or red leg warmers and heavy boots, and in their hands is a thin wooden bat, decorated with real hedgehog spikes. There is always a Devil among them, dressed in red and with much more freedom of movement (see photos on http://globtr.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/2009-february-slovenia.html)
Kurents jump and run and whirl around, and their bells never stop ringing, as to scare the Winter away. Kurents with most handkerchiefs hanged on his belt (stolen or hoaxed from the pretty maidens) is supposed to be the most popular with girls.
On Shrove Tuesday the Pust is taken to a 'court' where he is formally sued, accused and blamed for all stupidities, bad things and nonsense that happened in the past year and finally (and comically) sentenced to death. As far as I’ve seen, Pust is usually burnt and made into a big bonfire. But there may be other ways of ‘killing the Pust’. People wear carnival masks, often made by hand, and they compete whose mask is the most original, funny, etc. There is also music, stands with food and drinks and general party feeling.
The very good news I have got from the organiser is, that London Shrovetide Festival will present five Kurents and a Devil on 8th of March! This is a honour as these boys are coming especially for the party (the actual Pust carnival is happening in Slovenia on 1st March) and will bring their very heavy attire with them.
Tickets are £15 (+charges) - and you get a doughnut. If you wish to get a dinner too, the ticket is £20 (+charges).
I will be very happy if you can make it, and please do go crazy with dressing up. Let your imagination do its best.
Please get your tickets here: