Mardi Gras at Cerknica
|Pust v Cerknici|
|Tabor 1, SI-1380 Cerknica|
|Fax||01 709 0633|
|Municipality of Cerknica|
|Festival dates||12.2.2015 - 18.2.2015|
4.2.2016 - 10.2.2016
23.2.2017 - 1.3.2017
8.2.2018 - 14.2.2018
|Marko Rupar, President|
|Ksenija Preželj, Secretary|
|Phone||051 267 501|
The Mardi Gras celebrations have a long history in Slovenia (as they do in most of Europe), with the particular manifestations diverging from region to region. Many of them – such as Kurentovanje in Ptuj and the Cerkljanska Laufarija in Cerkno – have very unique and ancient traditions of costumes and customs.
The Cerknica carnival, as we know it today, only started to develop in the years after WWII, when the local rites of driving away winter were gradually joined by masquerades for children and a tradition of satirically tinged costumes that allude to politics and current events. The official birth of this particular festival is considered to be 1975, the year when the Cerknica Mardi Gras Society (Pustno društvo Cerknica) was established. This society takes care for the organisation and is of prime importance especially due to the fact that they create, develop and store the giant figures used in the procession.
The festivities start on Thursday, when the traditional rite of 'sowing the hag’ takes place. This is also the day when the town is supposedly given over to Butalci, comical and outrageously stupid figures taken from a series of famous satirical novels by(1867–1932) about a made-up town Butale. Its residents play a strong part in the upcoming days of the festival.
With the main events being the Saturday and Sunday processions (attracting thousand of visitors from around Slovenia), the whole thing finishes on Wednesday, when Pust (an anthropomorphic representation of winter) is ritually burned and thrown into the river.
The procession features numerous groups of masked people and giant paper-mash sculptures (of which many were created by the painter and sculptor). These include the witch Uršula (the mascot of the festival that according to folk lore resides in a cave on Slivnica, a hill overlooking Cerknica), the devil and his herd of dormouse, a dragon, the Water-man, and so on. Many of them allude to well known figures from the Slovene literary tradition.