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).
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.
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!