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  • Barbara Kužnik

Death, Wine and Culture - Slovenian Cultural Holiday

Most of the foreigners describe my country as a pearl of

untouched beauty, as a tempting jewellery box hiding a lot of secrets.

Well, I agree we are a particular nation. Small, stubborn and creative.

We worship our poets, even though we celebrate their death, we do it with a style. On a very cultural way.

We recite poems and drink wine. With our heart, literally.

So did I, this last Sunday in Pianofabriek in Saint Gilles in

the company of some others Slovenians living in Brussels.

It was Slovene Cultural Holiday.

Every year on the 8 February Slovenians around the world get a desire to drink and speak in the name of culture with a simple goal: to remember the Slovene greatest national poet France Prešeren (who died on 8 Feb 1849).

And to celebrate a national cultural holiday.

It was established in 1945 to raise the cultural and national consciousness of the Slovene nation, and declared a work-free day in 1991(!). Prešeren day is one of the most widely celebrated Slovene holidays.

In my childhood, this was one of the most important days in the whole year, apart from all those dictated socialists holidays with total different iconography and meaning. Teachers prepared us well in advance, we practiced our part to perfection and then they put us on a stage to illuminate the past with the narration of a tomorrow.

We presented – hope.

I still know dozens of poems, I had to learn by heart as a child to perform in front of a large number of spectators.

So we are used making performances in the name of our culture. This "need to be heard" has however sometimes no limits.

You might have noticed a small unusual event at the side of the German film festival in Berlin. A very interesting way of celebrating Prešeren Day at Potsdamer Platz. Boštjan Dvorâk, a linguist of a Slovene origin makes a performance with poetry of the France Prešeren and then he jumps into the ice-cold water. Afterwards there is some wine too, of course.

(Bostjan Dvorâk at the Berlin Potsdamer Platz on 8 February 2015)

Event in Brussel wasn't so extraordinary. It was simply nice and warm. And more people came as I expected. We were listening to poems of the Tomaž Pengov, heard some readings from Maček Muri, from my children's favorite author Kajetan Kovič and talked a lot about the avant-garde poet Tomaž Šalamun.

All three passed away in the last year.

My contribution was a personal farewell to a dear and almost forgotten friend David Šalamun. He died at the age of 41, just last week.

If he would ever write a poem, he would dedicate it to his mother, poet Maruša Krese who died a year before his father did (Tomaž Šalamun).

So I read a poem his mother dedicated to her mother.

For him. Mama.

(Listen to this BLOG)

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