This are all questions that our guests are questioning us. The answers are gathered here at Local stories, where we are, trough stories, presenting our lovely city of Maribor.
Author: univ.dipl.prav. Maja Mitrović
Easter (“Velika noč” also “Vuzem”) or Resurrection Sunday is the most important Christian festival and holiday (funny pagan quote) celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion. Though the object (should I rather use the world miracle?) of celebration is itself the same in different countries, the customs around it vary a lot.
Slovenia is a small country but with big inclination to diversity and this refers to Easter celebration tradition too. Easter is celebrated by 84,4 % Slovenians, each region with their own adopted customs and folk superstitions. This is a time when families gather around a table filled with delicious culinary delights and old customs come alive. Most notorious (:-)) symbols representing this one week period are rabbits (also bunnies) and eggs.
Many Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church to this day typically dye their Easter eggs red, the color of blood, in recognition of the blood of the sacrificed Christ (and, of the renewal of life in springtime).
Easter Bunny is the one bringing the Easter eggs. Its origin comes from Germanic pagan world and it is a symbol of the sacrificed animal of the Germanic goddess Aestra (“Vesna”). It is also an ancient fertility symbol associated with a moon that, in contrast to the sun, is a symbol of the female cosmic principle - that is, rebirth, resurrection, even intuition.
We call the last Sunday before Easter – Palm Sunday (“Cvetna nedelja”) when people gather in churches to bring their previously collected olive branches (symbol of holy vegetation) and hand-crafted Palm Sunday bundles (“butara”) for blessings performed by a priest. Typical for Maribor region – a bundle called “presmec” is a greenery made of olive branches, catkins and cornels. After the blessings, presmec is taken back home where it will be stored on a special place until next Palm Sunday.
On the following week everything is oriented to the preparation of typical Sunday Easter meals which will include Easter eggs, horseradish, a cake (“potica”) and Easter ham. Special attention is dedicated to decorating Easter eggs (Pirhi” – in Styria: “ramenice/remenke”). Art of egg decoration comes alive during this period in a fascinating and unusual form. Good Friday (“Veliki petek”) - the day of Jesus’s death - is a fasting day and the only day when there is no Mass in the Catholic churches. But on Holy Saturday several blessings are held again: blessings of fire, water and Easter meals.
Easter Sunday is always in a sign of abundance. Great feast is finally on the table, gifts are brought to the kids (Easter Bunny did it!) and work is put on hold.
Easter Monday is a remembrance day of Christ's appearances to his pupils. This day is reserved for people visiting their relatives and friends. Many places still hold a tradition of fun Eastern egg games which are especially intriguing and interesting to children.
For all of you who secretly strive for unusual facts to remember there are some Slovenian Easter folk superstitions that have evolved through our history and may also interest you:
On Easter Monday you can walk barefoot, but you will not get cold.
Something new to explore, so give yourself a Slovene-Styrian feast and visit Maribor for a different experience.
Soon, Slovenian streets will be flooded with characters. From small children dressed in their favorite super hero to adults fitting in their long forgotten favorite childhood super hero outfit. Little red riding hoods, sexy adult red riding hoods, latest movie super stars icons, Disney characters in all of their forms, famous legends resurrected, etc. What am I talking about? Big masquerade carnival (»pust«), which occurs 46 days before Easter, officially starting with Sunday as the first day of carnival festivities (»pustovanje«) and ending with Shrove Tuesday, day before Ash Wednesday - which is the first day of 40 days Lent in Western Christianity. Actual period of carnival is different each year, depending on Easter day.
Winter is showing all of its colors, with white being natures main dress code. Styrian region has a cure for this barren season in a form of most iconic carnival figure – Kurent (also Korant). Originating from city of Ptuj and its surroundings, this mythological creature purpose is to chase winter away. It is typical for this region that Kurent (mostly in a group along with other masks) makes various rounds during one week of carnival with a trip through the villages. They are »kicking off« winter with dancing and loud ringing from house to house. The mandatory parts of the mask are a fur coat, with a chain of large bells around its waist, a horn head adorned with ribbons or feathers, woolen socks and dark shoes. In December 2017, Kurents dancing tradition was registered on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Main events are carried out on previously mentioned Shrove Tuesday on the streets of cities that organize a big Carnival competition for most original mask. Here you will see it all. From dancing Kurents to extraordinary group masks that had been crafted and worked on by the contestants all year long.
But for some of us who have a sweet tooth, this is also a time when our nose suffers the most. An illogical statement you say? Well, you should try walking the street (or anywhere else for that matter) and resist heavenly smell of doughnuts in every corner. Gain weight you will.
Traditional Carnival Festival in Maribor!
February 13th, 2018, Trg Leona Štuklja Square Maribor
The presentations of traditional carnival characters is the main event that revives the old city centre of Ptuj in the time of carnival. Visitors can meet Kurents in the beautiful medieval streets of Ptuj every day of the festival, however these presentations bring the rituals, dances and customs of our other well known traditional carnival characters to the spotlight. On Monday, the last of the days before Pust is buried, we will get to know the iconic characters of Kurentovanje up close; Kurents.
17:00 – 18:00 Animation for childreen
18:00 – 18:30 Kurents/korants ED Zvonec, Korants EKD Veseli korant, Korants ED Korant klub spomini
During Shrove Tuesday, people of Ptuj finish working at midday to join in the carefree celebration with other participants and visitors of Kurentovanje. This year, we we will bury Shrove (or Pust in Slovene) with a little help of HELP! – Beatles tribute band and other performers.
Located on the south side of city of Maribor, with highest point 1543,50 m, slopes of Pohorje is a Styrian pride. It is the biggest skiing center in Slovenia and a center of various winter activities. This is the place for fun for serious sportsmen or just for someone enjoying a leisure vacations. A lot of famous Slovenian ski legends have trained, competed and won! the Golden Fox globe here (women’s world Alpine ski championship). To name a few: Tina Maze, Ilka Štuhec, Špela Pretnar, Alenka Dovžan, Mateja Svet...I will not mention famous foreign skiing opponent names as a loyal local supporter (let me just mention Lindsey Vonn, maybe it will get me more clicks).
Now that I have finished throwing big names at your face, let me introduce you with some other alternative options for winter activities (since skiing and snowboarding is so pasé). There is one piece of equipment typical and originated from here, named »pležuh«. It consists of one ski, a seat and a steering rudder (I will not bore you with cultural background). In the past it was used for fun on the snow, for a descent in the valley, for a ride in the school etc... No it is just a fun snow wheel. This could also be more of a safety ride for those who like to spend more time in the bar.
Instead of usual winter sports you could also go snowshoeing (krpljanje), it is good for burning calories and it gives you a lot more options for natural site seeing since you are not tied to the main skiing tracks. With this special kind of footwear you can walk even on very deep and soft snow.
When you get tired of all this natural fitness, Pohorje offers you a good place to rest and relax in one of our famous idyllic winter cottages where you could refresh your spirit with local homemade spirits (I would suggest our specialty - blueberry liquor) or a winter must do: mulled wine. And do not forget to mix that with our local food offer, you will not be disappointed with Styrian chefs cooking skills. But…maybe less skiing and more rolling on your back downhill is the safest after all that “spirit lifting”.
Pohorje is a precious natural monument, with a lot to offer, not only in the winter but during all seasons. You are more than welcome at any time.
Slovenia is one of those rare countries celebrating December holidays by giving gifts on three different occasions by three different man: Miklavž – eng. Saint Nicholas, Božiček – eng. Santa Claus and Dedek Mraz – rus. Ded Moroz. Slovenian godfella trinity (as I like to call them for the purpose of dramatic writing) is combined with mixed cultural, religious and mythological ingredients plus real history facts. As every story or a myth has its roots deep where we usually do not bother to look, December celebration customs are also a fine example of that. And why would we even bother with dissection in this case? I say for fun facts only. Education is fun.
Christmas time is family and people bonding time and it is meant to emphasize our understandably best human values – love, generosity, kindness, etc. We could say that humanity has put some »parody values« in this mixture during the course of time (thank you capitalism) but let us stay on track of exploring fun facts as I said before and later let me advertise some local events for you in this special Christmas addition. :-) You will be a witness of some myth busting too along the page.
The origin of celebrating »the most wonderful time of the year« is based in pagan times when people worshiped the arrival of winter solstice (from 21th of December on), that is when days become longer than nights again. And what was actually a metaphor for time when good wins over evil it has also made a solid foundation for later alteration of those pagan customs/myths. During different course of events in history this customs were moulded into what they are today. Christmas is the one day children around the world wait for whole year. We all know the background story - Jesus was born on this well-known date and all other legends have evolved around it. But nobody actually knows his real birth day. After Christianization they selected the day of ancient pagan custom of celebrating the birth of the Sun as the birth of Jesus. Who did this? Maybe Cesar Constantin or Pope Julius I. There are still debates about it.
So there, Jesus was added later. :-)
And...Modern Christmas has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus after all, they call it American Christmas now. Santa Clause and decorating a Christmas tree has a little to do with it.
But... We all like presents, so who cares. I was good this year and am expecting all three above mentioned generous man at my door (or a chimney). As an adult I like gifts in an envelope the most.
So who and what are they?
First man of the holy trinity...no, wait...
First man of the Slovenian goodfella trinity, Saint Nicholas comes on the night between 5th and 6th of December (day of his death). Also called Nikolaos of Myra, he was a real historic figure - a Christian saint and Greek Bishop from Asia Minor (modern day Demre, Turkey). He was born in the end of third century in a place called Patara. He moved in the city of Myra were he later became a Christian priest - in an era when Christianity was still persecuted. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers and students in various cities and countries around Europe.
He was known for his charity qualities, they say he was a son of a wealthy man, but he gave all his wealth to the poor (he had a habit of secret gift giving). That is why he has always had a reputation of a generous saint and in this modern days children in central Europe traditionally still receive gifts on Saint Nicholas day. Legends say he is accompanied by angels and demons and if a child was not good during the year he/she would not get any present. Slovenian children (and few adults) still fear legendary Parkelj (a demon) who is said to punish bad children instead of giving them gifts.
I should add a photo for a visual representation...
Saint Nicholas with his habit of secret gift giving was actually a foundation character for even more famous Santa Claus...
Saint Nicholas became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern American name comes from the Dutch »Sinterklaas«, itself from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of "Saint Nikolaos". When the Dutch originally came to America and established the colony of New Amsterdam, they brought the legend and traditions of Sinterklaas with them. The New Amsterdam Dutch later shortened "Sinterklaas" to "Santa Claus". They moved the celebration of Saint Nicholas day on 25th of December to coincide with Christmas day.
And about his outfit...No, Coca Cola was not the one that first portrayed him in his known red costume. Mind blowing right? He came to his first glory in a year 1823 in a poem »A Visit From St. Nicholas« from supposed author Clement Clark Moore. St. Nicholas is here described as being "chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf" with "a little round belly", that "shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly". The poem is based on a satire from Washington Irving (»History of New York«) where he was first introduced in an image as we still see him today, red jolly man traveling on a sleigh with reindeers. Later North Pole was added as his homeland by caricaturist Thomas Nast.
In a year 1931 Coca Cola adopted previous developed image of him and made him their commercial character – thus, urban myth was born – myth claiming that they were first to portrayed him. Nope.
This is the man for those who like the colour red, but not on a garment more as an ideology. He was first introduced to us after World War II as a Soviet influence. His origin is supposedly rooted in Slavic mythology where he was presented as a god of wind and winter but Russian Orthodox Church has given him also some Dutch »Sinterklaas« attributes. In time of communism his Slavic origin was used for redirection of attention from Christian Christmas to a secular celebration of New Year. Another gift after most strenuous night of them all. Fantastic!
It seems that maybe somebody was drinking too much of that winter punch, as all three man could be merged into the same person (almost) or vice versa – one person had been multiplied in his alter egos. I'll have one glass of this drink too please!
Now when you are also thirsty for more I have to mention that Maribor is a great place to get your Christmas spirit lifted. If not the best. Christmas lights are on, huge events are on the calendar and all of Saint Nicholas personalities will be watching on you. Not Parklejs, they only come for bad children.
Trg Leona Štuklja Square
(concerts, Christmas Village, New Year`s Eve Grand Celebration)
Grajski Trg Square
(festive fairs, concerts, parties)
Trg Svobode Square
(festive fairs, ice rink)
Vetrinjski Dvor Mansion
(concerts, performances, children`s events)
Slovenian culture has plenty of holidays that are toasted with wine. But we have one special holiday that is meant especially just for wine tasting – St. Martin's day. Named after Christian saint and bishop Martin from Tours it has a little to do with Christianity. St. Martins day is celebrated on 11th of November, the day when grape juice turns into wine, and it goes way back in history before Christ. Our pagan ancestry had been gathering together each autumn to praise gods, show appreciation and thankfulness for rich harvest and ask them for abundance in coming seasons.
After Christianization they kept this pagan custom due to its general popularity and marked 11th of November as St. Martin’s day (it is also the day of his death) in honor of bishop who was known for his humbleness and charity. Most known anecdote from his life is during his military service when he saw a homeless man freezing outside so he gave him half of his coat (he ripped it in two pieces). This was a sheer gesture representing his kindness. Following this event, he had an epiphany and turned himself to service of God. Later he was named for a bishop from his fellow citizen due to his known selfless service to poor and those in need of help. Here arose another anecdote telling that he hid between flock of geese from those who proclaim him as bishop (he was to humble for wanting this title) but the flock revealed him with quacking. It is no wonder goose is now our traditional first choice of meal on St. Martin’s day menu considering their history of treason. :) It is traditionally served with “mlinci” (another Slovenian culinary specialty) and cabbage. And do not forget the most important side “dish” – wine. On this day, it changes from grape juice to young wine and the whole process is accompanied with a big ceremony. It is a custom (usually) that a facetious man dressed in bishop blesses the wine in front of joyful crowd and with this act it is purified and ready for mass tasting. They do not call it second Halloween for nothing. Or maybe the reason is in all the funny faces afterwards.
St. Martin’s day tradition came into our place from German provinces and it is widely celebrated all over the world, each country with its own costumes. You will surely not be disappointed if you decide to visit one of this gatherings/celebration in Maribor, especially if you are enthusiastic about folk music, excellent wine, lively streets, traditional cuisine, diverse stands and cheerful people. Did I mention wine? :-D
- Old vine festival (1.10.2017 - 11.11.2017): tribute to the oldest vine tree in the world (also in the Guinness book of records), festival includes different daily events and it is concluded with a big celebration on St. Martin’s day,
- The biggest outdoor St. Martin’s day celebration in Maribor (11.11.2017 – Trg Leona Štuklja) – one-day celebration: starting at 11:11 AM, 20 000 visitors from Slovenia and abroad come to Slovenian Styrian capital. Program is accompanied with live music, rich cultural and entertainment offer + wine :)
- You can join 2, 5 km long Ruše wine road and on your way, you can visit different wine shops, wine cellars – galleries, cultural museums, chapels…
- There a lot of other smaller outdoor events in Maribor’s surrounding cities (Selnica ob Dravi, Svečina, Lenart etc.)
Author: univ.dipl.politolog Aneseja Šenveter
The Styria region has long been known for its excellent cuisine and delicious wines. The secret of the cuisine lies in its diversity – it is as varied as the landscape of the Styria region.
It offers a wide selection of homemade traditional dishes and combines it most perfectly with the elements of modern cuisine.
In traditional Styrian cuisine prevail strong dishes like pork meet, potatoes, beans, butter, sour cream, cottage cheese, eggs and different types of cereals. Sour cabbage and turnips are also considered as popular traditional dishes in this part of Slovenija.
When speaking of traditional Styrian food, we must not forget to mention different kinds of porridges (barley, buckwheat) cooked with meat or vegetable which often find their place on the daily menus.
The Styria region is known for the production of pumpkin oil, which is also considered as one of the basic ingredients in preparing traditional delicacies. The pumpkin oil has dark green colour, and its taste remind us a bit on the walnuts. Most often it is used as a salad dressing and we really would recommend you to try it – because of its rich taste we are sure you will want to take it home with you.
Have you ever tried typical Styrian desserts? Most often they contain cottage cheese, walnuts, cream and yeast dough. Ask for “sirova zlivanka”, “gibanica”, “pohorska omleta” or “šarlota”. We are sure you will love them.
When you take the best tasting recipes from the past, presented in a little bit more modern way and combined with top-notch Styrian wines, the culinary experience you receive will leave you speechless.
But there will also be no problem if you prefer international cuisine. Maribor has numerous restaurants you can visit; especially the Mediterranean and Balkan cuisine are strongly represented since they have that have important roots in the everyday life of the Styrians.
- Gostilna Maribor, where you will find authentic Slovenian cuisine (located in the strict city centre);
- Restaurant Pri treh ribnikih, the oldest restaurant in Maribor, with a tradition of 300 years (located next to towns park);
- Restaurant Rožmarin with modern, urban ambient yield to the culinary delights of fresh, seasonal and light Mediterranean food with a Štajerska touch (located in the city centre);
- Restaurant Pri Florjanu, offering seasonal and local cuisine (located in the strict city centre);
- Gostilna Pri lipi with rich traditional cousin, specially famous with the locals for its fried chicken (located near the Pohorje mountain);
- Restaurant Villa rustica, renowned for its tastily prepared menus and for Roman excavations (located near the Pohorje mountain);
- Restaurant Seven, owned by the Vocational College for Catering and Tourism in Maribor (located in the city centre);
- Pizzerija in Špageterija La Cantina, known for good quality and excellent location (located direct under the Pohorje Mountain);
The ones that we recommend in Maribor and its surrounding
When the city heats up, there is nothing better than freshen up in one of the outdoors pools Maribor has to offer. Whether you are trying to get fit, searching for a place to have fun with your children, or just lounge around in the water to beat the summer heat, here are some suggestions from our side.
And if you are looking for a refreshment outside the city and away from the crowds, here is an additional tip for a daily trip: Take a ride with cabin lift on the top of the Pohorje Mountain – from there the forest path will take you to the waterfall Skalca (about an hour of walk in one direction) where you can enjoy the fresh air, unique nature and clean water which originates directly from there. If you are not fond of walking, take a ride with your car up the mountain. Our receptionist will be more than happy to explain the way to get there.
And last but not least – do not forget to have a lot of fun. J
Mariborski otok is the oldest open-air swimming pool facility in Maribor. It is located on a small island in the middle of the Drava River. It offers three swimming pools (for swimmers, non-swimmers and children) and slide. If you would like to experience the city of Maribor as locals do, Mariborski otok is the right place for you.
Location: Na otok 40, 2000 Maribor
Working hours (23th June 2017 - September 2017): every day from 9.00 to 20.00
Centre for recreation and relaxation offers guests several indoor and outdoor pools with thermal water, fitness studio, various saunas, massage salons and recreational programmes. If you are looking for a place to relax by the swimming pools, have a massage or work out in fitness studio, visit Fontana.
Location: Koroška cesta 172, 2000 Maribor
Working hours: Mon – Sun from 9.00 to 21.00, Friday from 9.00 to 23.00
Wellness and SPA Centre Habakuk offers indoor and outdoor pools, covering more than 740 square meters. All pools contain thermal water and are equipped with underwater massage systems, whirlpools and waterfalls. The terraces with pools are opened from 15 June to 30 September.
Location: Pohorska 59, 2000 Maribor
Working hours: Outdoor swimming pool: Mon – Sun from 9.00 to 20.00
If you are looking for a swimming facility to enjoy it with your family we would recommend you to visit Terme Ptuj. It will only take you about 25 minutes of drive with car to get there. The Watter Park offers four outdoor swimming pools with special animation waves and slides.
Location: Pot v Toplice 9, 2251 Ptuj
Working hours: Mon – Fri from 7.00 to 22.00; Sat, Sun and holidays from 8.00 to 22.00