Traditionally, Easter comes in Slovenia as the culmination of the 40-day period of fasting known as Lent. It is a time for breaking that fast with both feasting and colourful celebrations, many of which are many centuries old.
|2019||21 Apr||Sun||Easter Sunday|
|22 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
|2020||12 Apr||Sun||Easter Sunday|
|13 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
On Palm Sunday, when Holy Week arrives, Slovenians will gather green branches, flowers, and other springtime plant life to make natural decorations that can only be described as “Easter bouquets.” While now a part of the celebrations, these bouquets have been made in Slovenia from pagan times up until the present.
On Good Friday, fasting is particularly strict, and many also fast on into Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. Traditionally, Slovenians eat “Aleluja,” a “fasting dish” made of turnip peels on Good Friday. This is done to remember a famine that once affected the Slovenian town of Carniola in the 16th Century.
When Easter dinner arrives, ham is the most traditional main course, and it cannot be eaten without horse radish, of course. Fresh breads and cakes will also be on the Easter table.
Throughout the season, ornately decorated Easter eggs, which go by many local names and vary from region to region, will be put on display. Reds and blacks are common, and designs are often very geometrical and complex. Some parts of Slovenia, however, will paint objects from nature on the eggs, frequently plants and flowers. The skills and specialised tools necessary to make a high-quality Slovenian Easter egg are quite impressive, and Slovenians even have their very decorative eggs religiously blessed.
Also note that “Easter” eggs are made in Slovenia after Easter is over and given out at special social events. In this case, the eggs may bear various inscriptions and be hollowed out. Only the beautified shell remains, and it makes a nice gift and a worthy souvenir.
Easter Sunday in Slovenia is normally spent at home with family and is a time of solemnity. On the following Monday, many stay home again and relax, while others go out walking or visit friends and relatives. Some people also get a whole new wardrobe on Easter Monday.
Should you travel to Slovenia for Easter, here are some ideas on what to do while there:
- See how Slovenian the celebration eggs are made, note their unique regional designs, and buy some for souvenirs. Even if it is not Easter, you can find them for sale because these eggs are painted all year long in some parts of the country, such as the Bela Krajina region. In Bela Krajina, there is also a special egg-decorating method that utilises wax and differs from the methods used in other parts of Slovenia.
- Gather greenery to make your own “Easter bouquet” or buy one in Slovenia’s capital city of Ljubljana. “Ljubljana Bundles,” as they are known, are famous even beyond the borders of Slovenia and are particularly unique. You can find them in the Ljubljana flower market next to the city cathedral.
- Tour the Bela Krajina region, near the border with Croatia, to learn of both its people and its natural beauty. During folk culture events, the locals dress up in white and resemble the numerous white birch trees that grow in the area. Bela Krajina is also well known for its tasty wines, both red and white. The serene Kolpa River can be seen flowing through Kolpa Nature Park, and in the town of Crnomelj, there are castles, art galleries, and museums to explore. Also look for the Bela Krajina Museum in the town of Metlika, and do not neglect to try the region’s namesake Bela Krajina flatbread.
Visitors to Slovenia during the Easter season will find many unique, local traditions that await their discovery.