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Dancers wearing national costumes in front of a kozolec hayrack

Photo: Domen Grögl

Folk dances, national costumes, and folk music are widespread in Slovenia and they are preserved and fostered with great care.

Slovenia is a real treasury of folk dances and folk songs, which differ from region to region. Ritual dances evolved over time into courtship or wedding dances. In some areas the bride and groom were not allowed to dance before midnight. In Porabje (the valley of the Rába; an ethnically Slovenian region of Hungary), the bride first danced with all the wedding guests, and only then with the groom. In Dražgoše the spouses were bound together by ribbons, symbolising their permanent union. 

The dancing season began on Easter Monday and lasted until Advent. In summer and autumn people danced at parish fairs, cattle fairs, public gatherings and public festivities. Dancing was also part of pig slaughter feasts, personal feast days and the end of work in fields or farmyard. There was no dancing during Advent and the first dance in December was on St Stephen's Day. People also danced on the last night in the year. The best-known group dance is the Kolo of the Bela krajina region. Dances for couples included the Steierisch, the Polka, the Mazurka, the Peasant Waltz, the Resiana from the Resia Valley (in Italy), among others. Slovenian tradition also boasts numerous dance-based games, such as the Hat Game.

The concept of a Slovenian national costume  began to develop in around the 1860s. This was a period in which the clothes worn by Slovenian peasants began a distinct evolution and became increasingly similar to those worn by town-dwellers. The three dominant costume types in Slovenian ethnic areas are the Alpine type, the type deriving from the Trieste area, and the festive costume worn in Rateče. Common characteristics of Slovenian national dress include, for men, a hat, black boots and a waistcoat (or in some areas a belt). Women's costumes include a coif (avba) in Gorenjska or a headscarf (peča) in Primorska and, in places, an umbrella or a straw basket. A ribbon in Slovenian colours (blue, white and red) was worn tied to the traditional metal belt in Gorenjska, over the shoulders in Bela krajina and round the waist in the Gail Valley (in Austria). Aprons are also a typical element of the Slovenian national costume. Once colourful, today they are frequently black or at least dark-coloured.  Sometimes they are decorated with lace. Men wear tall black boots, while women generally wear ankle boots.

National costumes also show specific regional characteristics and are essentially based on the clothes once worn by the rural population on special occasions and feast days.

Text by Tanja Glogovčan