Chasing Away Winter with Slovenia’s Mythical Kurenti


'CHRISTIANA BOTIC - National Geographic'

Even during the busy carnival season, if you walk alone through Ptuj you can find some quiet stone street and think you’re the only person in town. But then you’ll hear it: the not-so-distant clanging of bells around the corner. Cowbells, to be exact. Hanging not from the neck of an animal, but from the belt of a masked man dressed head-to-toe in sheepskin.

This sound echoes down alleyways and across bridges during Pust, or Carnival, a ten-day celebration of springtime and fertility ending the day before Ash Wednesday. Slovenian Pust is not unlike carnivals across Europe — an indulgent experience marked by elaborate parades, colorful costumes, and drinking in the streets. But in this country, it is the distinctive masks and local rituals that most excite the senses. 

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