One of my favorite parts of traveling and living abroad is learning about new holiday traditions. Whether it is new traditions for familiar holidays or entirely new holidays! Easter traditions in Slovenia are vibrant and some have become iconic to the country. I know Easter has now passed but I thought it would be interesting to share about Slovenian Easter traditions.
I wanted to share my personal experiences over the holiday weekend and pair it with other traditions around the country. I realize that this is a religious holiday and not practiced by everyone in Slovenia. There are a lot of Orthodox Christians who will celebrate on the following Sunday, and myself, I am not religious but I like to celebrate the traditions of any holiday!
Good Friday | Veliki petek
On Friday, while out to eat at Odprta Kuhna I saw several tables full of butarice (or butara). The best way to describe them is sort of like a bouquet in English they are often referred to as bundles. In different parts of Slovenia, they use different flowers, branches, or greenery in them. The most common being olive branches. They are meant to be taken to church on the Sunday before Easter, called Cvetna Nedelja (Flower Sunday), to be blessed by the priest, a custom dating back to the 9th century in Central Europe. Ljubljana’s butarice is my favorite with all of the colors painted on dried wood shavings.
In more traditional parts of Slovenia, Good Friday is a day of strict fasting. It is also sometimes referred to as Big Friday (Veliki petek) and many people refrain from eating meat and church bells are silent.
Holy Saturday | Velika sobota
My Saturday began with my mother-in-law, Nada, teaching me how to make potica. Potica is probably one of the most famous Slovenian desserts. It is a rolled dough with filling, most commonly walnut, but there are around 50 recognized variations around Slovenia. She made the entire process super easy to learn, having much of the ingredients measured out and ready to go.
First, you make the dough, because it needs around 2 hours to rise.
Next, you mix the ingredients for the filing, in our case, we used walnuts, egg whites, rum, cocoa powder, sugar, and butter.
Once the dough is ready it is rolled out on a tablecloth. Then you spread the filling and add some rum soaked raisins.
Then you bake and wait for the finished product! You can make them in different shapes depending on your pan. Typically they are done as a rolled log, or round like you see above.
While we waited for the dough to rise Jaka arrived and we all colored eggs together. Trying different dyes, mixing colors, using different stickers, and topping them off with an oil rub to make them shiny. You can also use a piece of fat to rub on the eggs to give them a glossy look.
For some in Slovenia, Holy Saturday is the day to end their fast. An old tradition is to eat a dish called Aleluja which has is made from dried turnips, water, and flour or porridge. This tradition dates back to a famine in 1529. Another tradition which I find very fascinating is called žegen. A custom from the 16th century that is still practiced today where women carry a basket with food for Sunday’s meal to the church and a priest blesses it. It is usually full of ham, potica, horseradish, and painted Easter eggs (called pirhi).
Decorated eggs for Easter in Slovenia have many names, depending on the region. I think it is really interesting that they have a completely new word for the eggs once they are colored and decorated. The motifs and techniques vary around the country but are all very elaborate and is a specific feature to Slovenian culture. Previous years I learned to use flowers and greenery and natural coloring techniques.
Easter Sunday | Velikanočna nedelja
For those who participated in žegen, the blessed basket full of food is now presented to the family for Easter Sunday breakfast. It contains ham, horeseradish, eggs, potica, and sometimes other items.
In our home, we had a semi-traditional breakfast. We made ham wrapped in bread and paired it with our decorated eggs. For lunch, we went to Jaka’s parents and had a typical Slovenian Sunday Lunch with the addition of some ham and horseradish.
Thank you as always for taking the time to read this post and letting me share the traditions of Slovenia. If you would like to see more posts like this, exploring Slovenian holidays and customs, let me know in the comments. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for daily updates.
Owner of wanderinghelene.com. Anthropologist, content creator, castle explorer, coffee drinker, and lover of markets and very old places!