Slovenia celebrates Culture Day, a bank holiday marking the anniversary of the death of France Prešeren (1800-1849), considered the nation’s greatest poet.
Numerous events will be held all across the country, with the main celebration taking place in front of Prešeren’s birthplace in the tiny village of Vrba (NW). The ceremony in Vrba will be addressed by President Borut Pahor, who will also hold an open day at the presidential palace.
Moreover, a recital of Prešeren poetry will be organised by drama actors at the Prešeren monument in Ljubljana city centre. The annual event has become very popular among the residents of the
capital and draws crowds each year even in rain and snow. The monument is located only a stone’s throw away from the home of Prešeren’s muse, Julija Primic, in the the Wolf Street. Primic, a wealthy merchant’s daughter, who did not return the love of the lawyer from a poor family, was the inspiration for many of his poems.
Prešeren’s extensive oeuvre includes Zdravljica (A Toast), a carmen figuratum poem, part of which serves as Slovenia’s national anthem, Krst pri Savici (The Baptism on the Savica), considered a national epic, and Sonetni Venec (A Wreath of Sonnets), a poem consisting of 14 sonnets about love, the Slovenian nation and poetry. It is unusual for a country to have a national Culture Day, however, Slovenians believe that their national identity developed and was preserved through culture and arts, as the nation only got an independent state in the early 1990s.
The top national prizes for achievements in the arts are handed out each year on the eve of Culture Day. This year, the prestigious plaques went to author Tone Partljič and composer Ivo Petrić. A reception will be hosted for Prešeren Prize laureates by Culture Minister Julijana Bizjak Mlakar today at the Brdo pri Kranju estate. She will also lay a wreath at the Prešeren monument in Ljubljana city centre alongside Pahor and the chair of the board selecting Prešeren Prize laureates, Janez Bogataj.
A number of events will also be held in the city of Kranj, where Prešeren lived before his death. Many towns across the country have a tradition of Culture Day ceremonies, which mostly take place on the eve of the bank holiday.