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Christmas in Slovenia

Christmas is the most popular religious and family holiday in Slovenia, too. It has a long tradition of veneration and celebration, filled with the archaic Indo-European heritage, interwoven with later Christian performances. Christmas, which means in Slovene "little god" is connected with celebration of the myth of the Sun god and his son. It is set at the time of the winter solstice, when the old sun dies and is again re-born. It is the period around 25th December, when the old Indo-European peoples celebrated the new year, the start of a new cycle on the 'birthday of the invincible Sun God - Dies natalis Solis invicti.

 

There are so many customs, beliefs, superstitions, traditions and magical events connected with Christmas in Slovenia that one could barely fit them into a thick book. The majority are part of the common European heritage, like the cult of greenery, fire and water and fortune telling and charming, giving presents, carol singing, Christmas baking, and later Christian additions, in which the Sun's is replaced by Christ's 'light of green fulfilled by the Christmas fir. Christmas fir only arrived here in the middle of last century from German lands, and the atmosphere of the crib, which came to Ljubljana in 1644 with the Jesuits. The most recent addition is actually written greetings cards, which appeared here, as elsewhere, in the 20s of the 19th century. Christmas songs by foreign and domestic authors are also very typical of Slovenia, as well as Miklavž (St. Nicholas), Christmas and New Year Fairs.

 

Apart from Christmas decoration, the oldest sign of Christmas is Christmas baking which also extends back to the pre-Christian period. The Christmas loaf differs from region to region. Three types are normally baked: wheat, rye and buckwheat.

These formerly ceremonial breads, with which various additions are associated, have magical properties and bring both people and animals health, strength and energy. The well-known Slovene carol singers are also connected with Christmas, New Year and the Three Kings. They are mentioned by Primož Trubar, author of the first printed Slovene book (1550). The carol singers brought a blessing to the house for the coming year, health and luck to people and animals. They also walked through the town, as successors to the former early Slav pagan singers with the same role.

 

Slovene people speak of three Christmases: the real one and two little Christmases (on New Year's Day and the Three Kings). On these days, every family burned incense and the smoke brought magic power and, at the same time, expelled demons. Christmas is thus a truly hallowed and magical time.

 

 

Text by: Damjan J.Ovsec (May 2002)

 

 

Potica /Photo by STO

Singing Christmas Tree /Photo: Bobo


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