Pust, carnival, also Mardi Gras, this year begins on Fat Thursday, February 20, and concludes on Ash Wednesday, February 26.
Around 1300 AD the Christian authorities, unable to get rid of the pagan festivities celebrating the end of winter and beginning of spring, pushed them into the time before Lent and the 40 days of fasting, when pretty much everyone (except perhaps the head of the house) ate very little, if at all, until Easter.
Pust has long been time of decadence, heavy eating (and drinking), crossdressing and, since the masks mean you have no idea who is who, the opportunity for all sorts of shenanigans, crime included.
This also isn’t a festival of political correctness, for example on the website of kurentovanje in Ptuj we learn that among traditional ethnographic characters we also find Gypsies: “Gypsies from Dornava at Ptujsko polje are unique in this region. Almost all villagers dress up in Gypsies, the habit which has been alive for decades now. They assume many different roles, such as fortune-telling, knife-grinding, music playing, chicken-stealing, and the like.”
Kurentovanje (named after perhaps best known traditional maškara – the kurent, since 2017 on UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage list) of Ptuj, the first place to begin the carnival has already started on February 7th. Please click here for more information in English on pust in Ptuj and this year’s programme.