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1st SLOVENIAN SHROVETIDE CARNIVAL IN LONDON - PUST

Hello dear Londoners! 

I am excitedly inviting you to the first ever traditional Slovenian carnival in London. It's one of the best things I miss from back home. Before I tell you a story about Pust, I just want to say that it will be a great party night with dancing, music, tasting some of Slovenian traditional food and drinks (like wine and beer), crazy masks and an incredibly special treat - a group of traditional Kurents and a Devil will visit especially for this event. It is an unique and very special opportunity to see them in London. And you get a free doughnut (home made), too!

Please note: masks are NOT obligatory, but if you come without one, you will miss out on opportunity to win the prize. And the prize is a weekend package for two in Spa and Hotel Primus in Ptuj - same town where the famous Kurents come from!

I can also add the menu which will be available on the day (evening), prepared by Karantanian Delicatessen: 

- Carniolan sausage with sauerkraut and potato/bean mash (can be served without the sausage for vegetarian option)
- Beef Goulash with Polenta
- Mushroom Risotto (vegetarian)
- Plum dumplings

The British-Slovene Society

Tickets can be purchased here: http://www.seetickets.com/Event/first-slovenian-carnival-pust-in-london/camden-centre/767653

or here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/carnival-pust-fasching-slovenian-way-tickets-10506365823

And now, let's see what this is all about. All images are taken from Wikipedia (links below).

Wikipedia: General_map_of_slovenia.svg

Slovenia is a tiny, but very beautiful country bordering to Italy (W), Austria (N), Hungary (NE) and Croatia (NE to S). We lovingly call it Mother Hen. Despite its miniature size it has a very rich culture and history, hundreds of dialects, good wine, pretty lakes and mountains, white Lipizzaner stallions, fantastic caves, lovely nature, myths and legends… and PUST CARNIVAL

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 it adopted it some time in 10th Century. But it was moved 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. On Saturday before the Shrove Tuesday people 'mask up' and go out joking, doing pranks and practical jokes, children go trick-and-treating, dancing. In some places they do a carnival parade to show the main figure, which is Pust - the Carnival Prince. This 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 polititian, recently). 

The unmissable companions of Pust are Kurenti, especially known in town of Ptuj. They are so special that they actually have their own celebration called Kurentovanje. The Kurent masks probably originate from pagan times and are thought to bring on good harvest with the ploughing of the first furrow.

File:Kurenti v Ptuju.JPG

Wikipedia: Kurenti_v_Ptuju.JPG

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.

Image of Kurent's face: with permission of Slovenian Tourist Board 

In another town - Cerknica, the carnival is celebrated in a different way. There are silly Butale people who take over the government of the town (village of Butale is a fictional village whose inhabitants excel in stupidity and silliness and is often mercilesly used as a caricature of politicians and other important 'decision makers'), witches that fly from Slivnica mountain (where they consult with Devil, often shown as a shepherd of dormice). The Pust figure is replaced by a giant witch named Urshula and lake monster Jezerko, and accompanied by witches, frogs, and other masks. Thursday is known as day of Sawing the Crone. Of course no crone is sawn, it's just the trick that mothers used to get children from under their feet while they make doughnuts and other goodies. While children would look for this non-existing event, the ladies would have enough time to prepare all the necessary food. Photos below are from Archives of Cerknica Pust Association (Pustno Drustvo Cerknica) - used with their permission.

Urshula and Pigs (it is said that Cerknica witches do not fly on brooms but ride on flying pigs)

Frogs - people of the vanishing lake (Cerknica lake plays 'now you see me, now you don't tricks - in summer it disappears underground and in autumn it comes back again)

Urshula's friends accompanying her on her final ride.

New Butale government, passing a verdict.

Another interesting carnival in Slovenia takes place in the town of Cerkno. It is called Laufarija and the main figures are Laufarji, consisting of 25 figures, all except one wearing a wooden mask, called "larfa". The Pust figure is sentenced to death in a precisely defined script. Laufarji have a special dance and are also in charge of providing a good harvest. All Laufers have specific names which  describe their masks and they talk in Cerkno dialect with lots of word games. They bring the Pust (his attire can weigh 100kg) before a judge who reads out his verdict. Until the death sentence is carried out on Tuesday, Pust is guarded by Laufers (see below, "Ta Terjasti") and The Fir One. With death of Pust the winter must die to and Spring comes.


Laufer Mask: The Fir One ("Ta Smrekov") - brother of Pust

Pust - the carnival prince

Typical for all carnivals are doughnuts, which are made at home in huge numbers, filled with apricot jam (or other), dusted with caster sugar and eaten still warm. Other foods provided on carnival could be sausages, dried ribs, buckwheat, turnips in brine, bean mash (matevz), beer, wine, etc.

I will be in mask, but will carry a MEETUP board. I'll be near the entrance from 8pm to c/a 8:30pm. Later than that, look for me inside. I will also leave instructions at the door and in the bar.  I will give all those who RVSP YES my phone number as well (in e-mail). Do hurry with tickets, they are going fast! The price at the door will be higher.

PLEASE RSVP ACCURATELY (PREFERABLY AFTER YOU'VE PURCHASED THE TICKET). IT MAKES IT MUCH EASIER FOR THE ORGANISER TO PLAN THE EVENT IF THEY KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE COMING. THANK YOU!

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  • Simi

    Ok, this is long past, but the Kingfisher Events have just released a video from the Carnival... find it on YouTube: http://youtu.be/oME59eS8t2A

    1 · March 24, 2014

  • Simi

    I've put up some photos of Kurents and their walk through London.. I doubt that anyone here has seen them walking around.. Also, could you please let me know, if you were there and I did not meet you (and tick you off here)... I was allowed to use the photos from Kingfisher Events Ltd Archive, taken by Steven Swain, so they are very professional. Please contact Kingfisher or Steven and ask for permission if you wish to use the photos somewhere yourself.

    March 16, 2014

  • Simi

    BTW... we had a table with MEETUP sign on it... but I've only met a few of the 22 people who RVSP-ed YES.... If I've missed you at the party, I apologise! I'm sincerely hoping that next year we will have the Carnival again and it will be even better...

    1 · March 9, 2014

    • marina

      hi Simi, I was there as well (I think I should be in one of the initial pictures...), I came to the table to say hallo and met few people as well..hope to talk next time!

      1 · March 10, 2014

    • Simi

      Hi Marina! Yes, we must talk next time! So sorry if we didn't, but I hope you enjoyed it! I'll put the photos on a bit later... Does anyone else have any photos? Please upload :) I do get crazy on this carnival...

      1 · March 10, 2014

  • Simi

    Hi people! Thank you for coming! I do hope you had fun and enjoyed dancing and jingling with Kurents... I have just got home!!! Did not have much time to take photos and at some point my camera refused to 'click', so I'm quite gutted that I don't have my own photos of the costumes. If you have left early, I need to inform you, that I have received the 3rd prize for effort (my scruffy toothpaste costume was made in great hurry and fell apart before they announced the winners).

    If you have noticed an elegant lady with Venetian mask and silky cream dress with a trail - she got the first prize! A weekend in Spa in Slovenia for two. Lucky girl.

    I'd be curious to hear about your impressions, so please tell me how you enjoyed it and post some photos if you have them!

    Simi :)

    March 9, 2014

  • Simi

    We're inside - look for table with Meetup board (the nearest to the drinks bar)... And I'm a Toothpaste (sort of - didn't have much time to make it nice)., ;)

    March 8, 2014

  • Simi

    No rush, folks... We're still queuing ...

    March 8, 2014

  • Simi

    Hi all... Getting lost at Kings Cross, will be there ShortlY

    March 8, 2014

  • Francesco

    Cool I am in! Will buy ticket at entrance

    1 · March 8, 2014

  • Aj

    Hi Simi, I'll be getting there around 8:15, let me know if you leave the meeting area.

    1 · March 8, 2014

  • Glenn

    Hi

    Unfortunately, I'm still feeling ill today (I was hoping to feel better by the weekend). I hope you all have a great time.

    1 · March 8, 2014

    • Simi

      Get well soon! Hopefully we'll have a Carnival next Year again!

      March 8, 2014

  • Simi

    Tickets will be £5 more on the door...

    March 6, 2014

  • Simi

    Hello people! I've got some new information (sorry, I'm a little late, but was quite busy this week and did not check internet much)... Anyway, let me get to the point: those coming to a Carnival - DO GET MASKED... be silly, crazy, let yourself go! There will be an award for the best mask and the prize is SPA WEEKEND for two in Slovenia. Sorry this came a bit late.. I'm still thinking about my mask. In any case you will see the big MEETUP boards around my neck. And will be dressed as a toothpaste (if I manage to make the costume in time). If not, then I'll be a Pippi Longstocking's ghost (I have a huge white sheet.. and will probably find some other recognisable articles).

    Two days to go! :D

    1 · March 6, 2014

22 went

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