As the word carnival that comes from the Late Latin expression “Carne vale”, which means “farewell to meat”, so does Slovenian naming relate to the same message. Pust is shortened from “Meso pust”, which means: “Leave the meat!”. So the name of Pust/ Carnival fits well the latin phrase: Domenica ante carnes tollendas ali levendas (Sunday before the meat is withdrawn out of the diet).
Although Pust derives from the period before Catholic Church took over the area, it became part of Christian feasts.
Time of celebration of Pust depends on Easter. Sunday of Pust is 7 weeks before Easter and it means beginning of pre-easter diet that contains no meat/flesh. But in the pre-Catholic period, it was a time when people would mask themselves in scary costumes to scare the winter off. And it is from that period we, in Slovenia, know following masks and rituals that accompany the feast.
Kurent was before Catholic church took over a pagan god of debauchery. Word “Kurent” is connected with old, Slovenian words “kovrh, kouvrh” that means “girl”, and it is a base for later developed Slovenian word “Kurba”, which means slut, the prostitute. It is believed that german word “Hure” (also meaning slut), and other similar words for the woman of suspicious morals derives from pagan word of debauchery.
Many Slovenian tales explain the derivation of Kurent. One of them talks about Great Flood, in which only four people survived. One of the four saw a grapevine and started to climb it in the wish to save his life. Kurent, a highly respected pagan god, to whom a grapevine was dedicated, saw a man climbing his grapevine and was delighted and moved to see that grapevine can be someone’s salvation. Kurent than made water to drain out, and land to dry. Saved man had to give his promise to Kurent that he will always respect and take care of two crops dedicated to Kurent: buckwheat and grapevine. The man took crop’s seeds that Kurent gave him and went to search the land where he will plant them. He stopped on the northeastern side of Adriatic sea.
The other tale talks about a very beautiful young man that was constantly hunted by young virgins that wanted to give themselves to him. He soon could no longer take it, so he asked God to disfigure his face. God fulfilled his desire. When he returned home he was finally left alone. But girls would still, every year, celebrate the memory of the beautiful boy in an immoral way.
The third tale includes Jesus. Kurent was a giant and bandit. In order to put him in his place, Jesus changed him into bullock and gave him for 7 years to peasants. These seven years were in the village very fertile and peasants have connected a fertility of land with this bullock. When Jesus and Saint Peter returned for bullock they saw that peasants dressed a bullock into festive costume and made the joke out of it. They took it away from them and made a bullock human again. Kurent left a village and lived in peace.
The best visual description of “Kurent” can be found in chronicles of the priest of Church of Saint Matthew in Markovci. The description was written in the 18th century:
“Kurent is a very interesting freak, that looks like something that ran out of hell where he twinned with Lucifer himself”.
Kurents are very loud creatures. They are constantly jumping and spinning around so the cow bells that they have attached around their waist are constantly ringing. In the period before WWII whenever groups of Kurents would meet, there would be a severe fight between the groups, and most of the times, someone would lie down seriously injured or even dead. Kurent always comes in company with a devil: “tajfl”. Tajfl usually wears a black or red costume that is made out of raven feathers. He carries himself a fishing net with which he catches human souls.
The greatest Kurent festival, known as Kurentovanje, is in the region of Ptuj. We say for Ptuj that is a capital of “pustovanja” (carnival capital). They celebrate “Pust” primarily to scare off the winter and to wish for crop fertility. Ptuj “Kurentovanje” is listed in ten best carnivals of the world.
Borovo gostüvanje is a carnival tradition in the region of Prekmurje, and it is celebrated there, where in the pre-carnival period no one had married (that is from 6th of January until Pust).It was once believed that this period is the best time for weddings and celebration.
Borovo gostüvanje have become more a tourist attraction than actual traditional celebration.
In order to publicly humiliate unmarried girls and boys, unmarried youth must carry pine tree out of the wood. It is their way of saying to young people, in a polite way, that they should start reproducing themselves. Along with that, a spectacular play is carried on: a sort of folk play, while the unmarried girl or a boy goes to his/her parents with pine as a bride/groom. A purpose is to humiliate those who weren’t able to find a partner because they fail to fulfill village’s wish for children and new generations.
It is a fest that takes place in Cerklje, the region of Gorenjska. It starts on the first Sunday of the New Year when first “Laufar” starts to run the streets of Cerklje. Every following Sunday more and more “Laufars” join and it goes on until the Carnival’s Sunday. On Carnival’s Tuesday, Laufars symbolically punish Pust. That way they chase a winter away so the spring can start.
Word “luafar” derives from german word “laufen”, which means “to run”.
Every laufar has his own name and his own costume.
The main idea of the fest is to punish “Pust”. Laufars chase Pust from the first Sunday in New Year, until the Carnival’s Sunday when they catch him. Then they take him to a court where the judge reads everything bad that happened in Cerklje the last year and then he is sentenced to death. After Pust is dead, spring can come.
PUSTNI KROFI (Slovenian doughnuts)
In Slovenia, when Pust comes, it is tradition to make and eat “krofe”. Also, children comes from door to door, singing songs and ask for candies, sweets, fruit and “krofe”. 🙂
So, hereby is a recipe for delicious, traditional sweet Krof.
2 ounces compressed yeast
(or 3 packages dry yeast)
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half cream
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons margarine
6 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1/2 lemon, rind and juice
3 pounds (9-1/2 cups) flour
Crumble yeast in water; stir in sugar and 2 tablespoons flour. Set aside to rise, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat milk, half and half, butter and margarine; cool to lukewarm. In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugar, salt and sour cream together. Add milk mixture to egg mixture. Stir in yeast, lemon rind, juice and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour until dough is easy to handle, about 7 cups. Place on floured board and knead about 10 minutes to a soft non-sticking dough, adding more remaining flour on board as needed. Place in greased bowl, turn to grease top. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
On lightly floured cloth, place dough and stretch (no rolling) to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut rounds (there are no holes in krofe) with the top of a glass or with a doughnut cutter (removing inner cutting circle). Place rounds on floured cloth; cover with a cloth to rise about 30 minutes or until light. Use scraps of dough to make additional rounds. Fry in deep fat (3 inches of oil) until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Place on brown paper to absorb fat. Dust with powdered sugar when krofs are cooled.
Makes 65 krofs (doughnuts).