Friday, February 8, 2008

Prešeren Day

Happy Preseren Day!

The Slovenian Cultural Holiday, known unofficially as the Prešeren Day (Slovene: Prešernov dan), is a national holiday celebrated in Slovenia marking the anniversary of the death of the poet France Prešeren on February 8, 1849. Since Prešeren is generally considered as the greatest poet in the Slovenian language, the holiday was established to honour the achievements in Slovenian culture.

It was first commemorated as a holiday in 1944 by the Liberation Front of the Slovenian People. It remained a public holiday during the era of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia within Yugoslavia and it was celebrated also by the Carinthian Slovenes and the Slovenes in Italy. It was marked with many cultural festivals and remembrances, with school excursions to cultural significant institutions.

In 1991, it was declared a work-free day. Many opposed this gesture, claiming it would bring to the banalisation of a holiday designed to be dedicated to cultural events. As a result, December 3, the anniversary of the poet's birth, has also become widely celebrated as an alternative holiday. Today both days are almost equally celebrated, with no antagonism between the two, although only the Prešeren Day in February is officially recognized as a national holiday.

On February 8, the Prešeren Prizes, the highest Slovenian recognitions for cultural and scientific achievements, are conferred.

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