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Kurent - Traditional Slovenian Carnival character

The wandering kurent figures rank among the more visible traditional Shrovetide Carnival customs in Slovenia, and the kurent is the most recognisable Carnival character, with records of his appearance dating back to 1880. The kurent is also one of the symbols of the Slovenian identity.

The kurent, who resembles a demon, is clothed in sheepskin, and around his belt hang large cowbells and beautifully embroidered handkerchiefs

The kurent, who resembles a demon, is clothed in sheepskin, and around his belt hang large cowbells and beautifully embroidered handkerchiefs | Author Domen Grögl, Mostphotos

The entry of the kurent tradition on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage marks an exceptional recognition for Slovenia, and especially for all those who work to preserve this unique tradition.

There is no doubt that the kurent, or korant, an original and unique Carnival character from Ptuj, Dravsko Polje and the surrounding area, is an important tradition in Slovenia. A unique tribute to this custom are the traditional Kurentovanje celebrations in Ptuj.

With the loud shaking of their bells the kurents drive away winter and evil from the land, and invite in spring and a good year. Aleš Ivančič, president of the Kurent Ethnographic Society of Ptuj, explains that young bachelors have honoured this ancient fertility rite since time immemorial, and thus was created the story of the living myth, the kurent. At one time they also honoured deceased relatives, and reverence was offered to the spirits. This fairy-tale hero, who is linked symbolically to grapevines, is also known as a god of merriment and wine in Slavic mythology. He is an ethnographic character that can only appear in the time of the year from Candlemas to Ash Wednesday.

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