ETHNONYMS: Krainisch, Slovenec (plural, Slovenci), Slovenian, Slovenski, Wendisch, Windisch
Identification. Slovenia was the northwesternmost republic of Yugoslavia; it is now an independent state. The name "Slovenec" is derived from the common name for the Slavs, which is the equivalent of the Greek "Sklavenos" (Romanian "Slavjanin"; Czech, Slovak "Slovan"). There is disagreement about the origin of the word for the Slavs. It is thought to derive either from the word slava (glory) or from the word slovo (word), referring to those who speak clearly, as opposed to the neighboring Germans who do not. (The Slavic root nem, which forms the word for German, nemec, also forms words meaning mute.)
Location. Slovenia is situated in the Karst Plateau and the Julian Alps. It is drained by the Sava and Drava rivers. It is bordered on the north by Austria, on the southwest by Italy, and by the former Yugoslav republic of Croatia, another now independent state, on the south and east. It also shares a small border to the east with Hungary. Slovenia is located Between 49° and 50° N and 12° and 19° E. Its area is 20,251 square kilometers. The largest part of Slovenia is Mountainous. Much of the land is karstic, rugged and stony. Only a small eastern section lies within the Pannonian Plain. Summers are short, often cool, and sometimes rainy. Winters are cold but not severe.
Demography. Compared to Serbia's, Slovenia's population increase has been gradual, growing in urban sections and generally declining in rural ones since 1891 because of exhaustion of free land. According to census figures, in 1921 the Slovene population was 1.05 million; in 1931, 1,266,604; in 1948,1,439,800; and in 1961, 1,584,368. The latest Population figure (1990) is 1,891,864. Population density in 1990 was 93 persons per square kilometer. Large Slovene Populations also live in southern Austria and in the United States (especially in Cleveland, Ohio; Pennsylvania; and Minnesota).
Linguistic Affiliation. The Slovene language, one of the South Slavic Group of the Slavic Family, is one of the most archaic of the Slavic languages. It includes thirty-six dialects, and twenty-nine subdialects, many of which are distinct enough to be unintelligible to Slovene speakers of different areas.
History and Cultural Relations
In the area that is today Slovenia, early Iron Age settlements attributed to Illyrians came under Roman control by 14 b.c. By AD. 650 Slavic tribes, including the Slovenes, were in full possession of Illyria. In the middle of the seventh century Slovenes were included in the Slavic union led by King Samo (617-658). Later the Slovenes came under the domination of the Franks and became the object of intensive Christian proselytizing, particularly under Charlemagne (768-814). During the Middle Ages Slovene lands became part of the Holy Roman Empire and by the middle of the fourteenth Century, Hapsburg domination over the duchies of Carinthia and Carniola was established and continued until 1918, with the brief interruption of the Napoleonic conquest of Carniola (1809-1813).
By the tenth century German lords and the Catholic church represented the feudal order. The peasants were burdened with various feudal obligations. By the sixteenth Century the Reformation encouraged the rise of Slovene national consciousness and the Slovene language was adopted in church services. In 1584 the first Slovene grammar appeared. But the Counter Reformation was successful in opposing Protestantism. From the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries there were peasant revolts. Problems were mitigated by the enlightened policy of agrarian reform under Maria Theresa (1740-1780) and her son Joseph II (1780-1790). In 1848 when all serf obligations were abolished, Slovene national consciousness culminated in the call for the creation of a Slovenían kingdom under Austria. The years from 1848 to 1918 saw mixed developments since, in spite of improvements in agricultural practices, taxes increased, as did land subdivisions and mortgaging of farms. The agrarian crisis of the 1890s that followed forced large numbers of peasants to emigrate to the United States.
In 1918, with the end of Austrian rule, the new South Slav state was formed, initially called the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes and later named Yugoslavia. World War II saw the fall of the Yugoslav government, and on 2 April 1941 the Germans invaded Yugoslavia, giving rise to the Partisan movement. Slovenia was occupied by the Germans except in the southwest section, which was controlled by the Italians, and a small area of Prekomurje, which fell to the Hungarians. On 29 November 1945 the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia was formed, and Slovenia gained a part of the Istrian Peninsula and the territory surrounding Trieste as well as certain regions west of the Italian city of Goricia. More stringent land reforms followed that did not greatly help the situation in Slovenia, where there were not many rich peasants with enough land to be distributed. The program of collectivization of the land was introduced in 1948 and, while the bulk of the peasant holdings remained private, the peasant economy became strictly regulated by the Communist program. In 1948 Yugoslavia broke with the Cominform and introduced regional autonomy, which culminated in the Constitutional Law of 1953 giving considerable authority to local government bodies, the people's committees (narodni odbor ). In 1955 the Law on Organization of Communes and Districts instituted the communal system. In April 1963 the constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia became law. In 1971 the decision was made to establish a collective presidency, which President Tito encouraged. In 1974 a new Yugoslav constitution was introduced. Since Tito's death, on 4 May 1980, economic and national problems have increased. On 22 January 1990 the Communist party of Yugoslavia renounced its constitutionally guaranteed leading role in society and called on parliament to enact political pluralism leading to a multiparty system. In the spring of 1990 the Slovene Communists lost in the elections and Slovenia then advocated turning Yugoslavia into a loose federation of allied states. A Slovene secessionist movement gained strength and succeeded in establishing independence in 1991. Slovenia has its own militia, which the national government had declared illegal prior to Independence, and has established its own currency.
In the most typical settlements, called planned or long Villages, houses were lined up close together on either side of the road with the narrow end of the house facing the road, or houses were built only on one side of the road, or houses faced a central square with a church. In areas where the topography permitted, land surrounding the village was divided into open fields or sections, which in turn were subdivided into long parallel fields or strips. Traditionally each peasant possessed one or more strips in each section of the village land, and all villagers cooperated in a villagewide system of crop rotation (kolobarjenje). After the harvest the fields were opened for pasturing the cattle of the entire village. Houses were made of stone with attached sheds for animals, which contained a stove to cook food for pigs (kuhinja ). Detached wooden barns were for storage of hay and cattle fodder. Houses were one-and-one-half stories with two rooms and no cellar. In the kitchen was a raised hearth on which an open fire burned vented by a hole in the ceiling. Meat was stored in the attic. Roofs were thatched. The second room was the main room, heated by a large tiled stove. Tile roofs date from after World War II. Today modernization has proceeded with revenues from factory work and with remittances from family members who have migrated to cities and to foreign Countries. Electrification, piped water, electric stoves and refrigerators, and house enlargements are among the improvements. Apartment buildings have grown up around factories and in urban centers. Tourism and urban development have given cities a very modern appearance.
Subsistence and Commercial Activities . Farming, livestock raising, and forestry have been the traditional rural Occupations of peasants. Agricultural land is limited by rugged mountains, stony valleys, and karstic soil. Only at high altitudes are alpine black soils found. Slovenia does not produce enough grain for its own needs and must rely on imports. The main crops are wheat on the flat areas; rye, barley, and oats at higher elevations; and maize, clover, and potatoes. Turnips, carrots, beets, and cabbages are cultivated for animal as well as for human consumption. The animal economy includes milk cows, beef cattle, pigs, sheep in the mountains, and poultry. Horse and oxen for draft, the traditional sources of power, have been replaced by tractors, but only in the post-World War II period. Forest exploitation has been important for Slovene peasants, who owned 90 percent of the woodland by the period between the two wars. Furniture factories and sawmills are often close to peasant villages. Traditional methods of distribution included exchanges in regional markets. Industrialization began in the nineteenth century aided by the construction of a railroad line connecting Trieste and Ljubljana. Slovenia's resources include natural gas, oil, mercury, coal, lead, silver, and zinc. Iron, steel, and aluminum are produced. Slovenia produces considerable electrical energy. There are also paper, textile, wood, and chemical industries. While in 1900 75 percent of the population was engaged in agriculture, by 1960 this figure was reduced to 32.3 percent and a large portion of these worked part-time in factories. Of all the former Yugoslav republics, Slovenia was the most industrialized and urbanized and had the highest per capita income.
Industrial Arts. The traditional village included artisans such as tailors, weavers, cobblers, smiths, carpenters, and millers, and their products provided for most of the villagers' needs.
Trade. Villagewide and regional markets once dominated local trade, where cattle were traded and textiles, tools, rope, sweets, etc. were sold. Now there are inns and stores in the countryside providing for the village needs. Horse smuggling was common in the interwar period, when horses were bought in Croatia and sold in Italy. In the modern period much of the rural trade has been controlled by cooperative farms, to which cattle, hogs, potatoes, lumber, hay, etc. are sold at prices the peasants consider unfavorable. Consequently rural areas have attempted to develop their own specialties not demanded by the cooperatives, such as breeding hogs and selling young pigs, thereby circumventing official channels. Today Slovenia imports wheat and industrial products from the West and exports wood and textile products, nonferrous metal products, livestock, and numerous other commodities. Slovenia is attempting to increase capital-intensive and specialized industries and reduce exporting of lumber and meat in order to compete on the world market.
Division of Labor. The traditional Slovene family was patriarchal and extended. Division of labor by sex was clear but not rigid. Women carried the main burden of the fieldwork, cutting and raking hay, digging potatoes, planting, weeding, hoeing, and caring for the crops throughout the year. Women also milked the cows, cared for the pigs, made everyday clothes and linen, prepared the food and cared for the Children. Men scythed or mowed, fed the cattle, plowed, repaired buildings and tools, lumbered, and carted wood, etc. But today both men and women may work in the factory and Divide up the fieldwork more informally. Other activities also divided the sexes. Thus only men and boys played ball in the balina fields. Young boys, but not girls, could sleep in barns at night. Men peopled the local inns. Typically boys helped the father and girls, the mother. Village specialists had far less land and engaged in weaving, forging, carpentry, etc.; some villagers owned sawmills and were millers.
Land Tenure. Various traces of evidence suggest ancient landholdings may have been held jointly by brothers. The joint family, or South Slavic zadruga, it is suggested, was then modified and equal division was practiced. When land became increasingly scarce by the fourteenth century, partible inheritance was replaced by impartible inheritance with a preference for primogeniture. Disinherited brothers, unless they married women who inherited land, were forced to emigrate, to turn to specialized village crafts, or become day laborers. In the modern period, primogeniture has broken down since many sons prefer to leave rural life for factories or specialized training, leaving only a younger son or a daughter to maintain the land and homestead. However, the rule of impartibility is generally maintained since landholdings are too small to be further subdivided.
Kin Groups and Descent. Kinship is bilateral with a patrilineal emphasis. The typical kin group was the stem family composed of the patriarch head (gospodar ), his wife, their children, various unmarried collateral relatives of the gospodar, and the wife and offspring of the eldest son. The Presence of common surnames, archival records, and legends suggest that lineage relations existed between dominant joint families.
Marriage and the Family
Marriage. Traditionally, village or regional endogamy was preferred. Marriages were arranged by parents and involved bargaining over dowry and inheritance. Preferred residence was virilocal, but it was sometimes uxorilocal if the inheritor of the land was a daughter. The aim was to gain land in a Marriage, and thus a peasant with little land might try to marry his son to an inheriting woman. Weddings were the occasion of a veselica, a celebration with feasting, music, games, etc., and might extend over three days. Civil marriages in the postwar period have not replaced religious marriages, which, However, are much briefer than formerly. Divorce, while permitted by civil law, is still relatively rare in rural areas.
Domestic Unit. The large stem family with many children has become smaller, increasingly being replaced by a small extended family or a nuclear family composed of parents, one to three children, and one or more members of the older generation.
Inheritance. Land is inherited by the rules of impartibility and primogeniture when possible. Women are granted dowries and may inherit land if there is no son. The son also Inherits money and animals. While status is not inherited, traditionally the son of a craftsman tended to follow his Father's occupation; however, in the modern period education and factory work have opened opportunities to all strata and both sexes.
Socialization. Children are welcomed, with sons preferred. Swaddling is no longer practiced, but a restraining nightgown may be used for the first year. Schooling is universal and education beyond high school is desired by the younger generation.
Social Organization. The family is tied to other families by relations among kin and relations to godparents and Neighbors. Traditionally, villagewide activities were organized by the church, by singing societies, by firemens' organizations, which included other activities such as dramatic productions, and by veselicas at many occasions such as weddings, threshing, and the kolina festivities when a pig was slaughtered. Additionally, regional markets were centers for social interaction of all kinds. All these activities have declined in the modern period. Traditionally there were clear differences in social Status in the peasant village. The highest status was occupied by the largest landowners and in some areas by the millers who owned larger forest reserves. Middle peasants were next, and the landless or semilandless craftsmen had the lowest status. In the postwar period peasants who became political functionaries occupied an ambiguous status, having a measure of power but often coming from the landless class. Status also became far more fluid as factory work and educational activities expanded.
Political Organization. The post-1848 village was ruled by an elected village council under the village head (podžupan ), who was subordinate to the občina, a council representing a number of villages, which in turn was subordinated to the District. This structure was successively altered under the Communist regime and the communal system. Local village government lost much of its autonomy, being replaced by people's committees (narodni odbor) at the občina and District level. After 1955 the communal system was instituted. The commune replaced the občina as the basic political unit and local units were further consolidated. Full-time peasants had less rights and were less fully represented than others.
Social Control. In the traditional village social control was informally exercised through face-to-face relations, gossip, social ostracism, the power of the local Catholic church and the village council, and only secondarily by the legal mechanisms of the state. In the postwar period local methods largely have been replaced by official ones.
Conflict. Traditionally conflicts between villages over such issues as boundary disputes, inheritance, rights to forest land, and road construction were settled by the village council or local courts. Postwar conflicts such as those between the Village and the cooperative farms no longer are settled locally. Ethnic antagonisms between Slovenes and the representatives of the southern nationalities have been sources of tensions.
Religion and Expressive Culture
Religious Beliefs. The main religious beliefs of the Slovenes are those of the Roman Catholic church. While legends relate activities of witches and magical forces, such themes are intermixed with Christian dogma.
Religious Practitioners and Ceremonies. In the prewar period the parish was supported by a church tax administered by the village council and the priest was paid by the state and received remuneration from parishioners for his services, which included: hearing confessions; religious education for children; and officiation at masses, baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and funerals. The religious calendar was full and well observed, including pilgrimages to large churches with stops at wayside shrines and general celebrations on religious holidays. In the postwar period the activities and power of the Catholic church were seriously curtailed, although the priests attempted to continue to offer their services and the Catholic religion remained a strong moral force. In the post-Communist period, of course, the church has considerably greater latitude.
Arts. Traditional arts included decorative motifs on buildings such as barns, gravestone decorations, and religious carvings and paintings in churches following central European styles. In peasant houses one saw colorful tile stoves, wall stippling giving the impression of wallpaper, woven cloths, wooden carvings on boxes and other items, and hand-carved simple furniture. Local folk art declined during the Communist period, becoming commercialized and standardized and being sold primarily in tourist-orientated state-controlled stores, but there has been a rich growth of modern architecture and painting in urban centers.
Medicine. Modern medicine has penetrated the rural area. Children receive inoculations, chest X rays are available to everyone, and most children are born in hospitals. Peasants receive health insurance, although coverage has been limited as compared to that available to workers. While local cures and traditional herbs are still used, the primary curer is the medical doctor.
Death and Afterlife. Funerals follow traditional Catholic customs. The body is placed in an open coffin in the house for forty-eight hours while friends and relatives pay a last call and sprinkle the body with holy water or salt. After the coffin is closed, it is placed in the open door, and the priest invokes a benediction and leads prayer. There follows the funeral mass at the church, a graveside benediction, the burial, and then the funeral feast. For eight days thereafter friends visit the family of the deceased and pray, eat, and drink together. Finally, there are additional requiem masses thirteen and eighteen days later.
Grafenauer, Bogo (1954-1962). Zgodovina slovenskega naroda (History of the Slovene people). 5 vols. Ljubljana: Kmečka Knjiga.
Hočevar, Toussaint (1965). The Structure of the Slovenian Economy, 1848-1963. New York: Studia Slovenica.
Mal, Josip (1928). Zgodovina slovenskega naroda: Najnovejša doba (History of the Slovene nation: The modern period). Celje: Druzba sv. Mohorja.
Melik, Anton (1963). Slovenija: Geografski opis (Slovenia: A geographic description). Ljubljana: Slovenska Matica.
Slovene Studies (1979-). Journal of the Society for Slovene Studies. University of Alberta. Edmonton, Canada.
Winner, Irene (1971). A Slovenian Village: Zerovnica. Providence: Brown University Press.
"Slovenes." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/slovenes
"Slovenes." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved September 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/slovenes
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ALTERNATE NAMES: Slovenci; Slovenians [both forms, Slovene and Slovenian, are used as noun and adjective]
POPULATION: 1.7 million
RELIGION: Roman Catholicism
1 • INTRODUCTION
The Slovenes originally lived in the area northeast of the Carpathian Mountains. They settled in the eastern Alpine region of Central Europe in the sixth and seventh centuries ad. They formed a short-lived country called Karantania in the eighth century. They didn't have their own independent state in modern times until 1991.
For over a thousand years, Slovenes lived under mostly German rule as part of the Holy Roman (962–1806), Austrian (1804–1867), and Austro-Hungarian (1867–1918) empires. The region where the Slovenes live became part of Yugoslavia after World War I ended in 1918.
During centuries of foreign rule, the Slovenes preserved their language. Over the last 200 years, they formed a modern nation with a rich culture and aspirations for political independence, which they achieved when Yugoslavia fell apart in June 1991, after two of its republics, Croatia and Slovenia, proclaimed their independence.
2 • LOCATION
The Republic of Slovenia borders Italy in the west, Austria in the north, Hungary in the northeast, and Croatia in the east and south. It is about the size of the state of New Jersey. Slovenia's climate varies with its geographical makeup.
About 50 percent of Slovenes live in cities. Ljubljana, the capital, has approximately 330,000 inhabitants. Before World War II (1939–45), over 50 percent of Slovenes made their living from farming. In the 1990s, the number of peasant farmers had dwindled to 7 percent. After World War II, Yugoslavia industrialized quickly but did not become urbanized. In independent Slovenia, many Slovenes still live in the country and commute to work in the cities.
Most of Slovenia's population of 2 million are Slovene—1.7 million, or 88 percent.
3 • LANGUAGE
The language of Slovenes is Slovenian, which is the official language of the Republic of Slovenia. Slovenian is a South Slavic language, closely related to Croatian and similar to other Slavic languages, such as Czech. It is spoken by approximately two million people in the Slovene ethnic territory, and by emigrants around the world.
At present, slang, especially of youth, and technical language of professional groups are heavily influenced by English. In teenagers' talk, the English words "full" and "cool" are common expressions of emphasis. For examples, To je ful dober! (This is very good!) is often heard. Another often-used English expression is "OK."
People are most often named after Catholic saints such as Ann, Andrew, Joseph, Maria, and Matthew (Ana, Andrej, Jože, Marija, Matevž ). Also popular are old Slavic personal names, such as Iztok or Vesna. Family names are derived from people's occupations. Examples include Kmet (farmer), or Kovač (blacksmith). Locations also become family or given names. For examples, Dolinar (one who lives in a valley), or Hribar (one who lives on a mountain). Names derived from animals are also popular: Medved (bear), Petelin (rooster), or Volk (wolf).
4 • FOLKLORE
Many Slovene folk traditions are associated with seasonal celebrations. Adults and children enjoy the spring Carnival season, called pust (Mardi Gras). Celebrations include parades, carnivals, and masquerade balls. Kurentovanje in the city of Ptuj (in northeastern Slovenia) is the most famous tourist attraction. The central figure in the event is the kurent, who has fur clothing and unusual masks with horns. These represent human and animals traits. They are meant to evoke images of another planet. Always happy, the kurent is considered to forecast spring, fertility, and new life. Accompanied by a ceremonial plowman, he visits farms and wishes their owners a prosperous year.
Also for Carnival season, the traditional pastries krofi and flancati (similar to doughnuts) are prepared. Costumed children, wearing masks, go from house to house, asking: "Do you have anything for Pusta, Hrusta?" People give them sweets and fruits. Adults attend masquerade balls.
Slovene heroes are usually optimistic, wise, and cheerful. The story about Kralj Matjaž (King Mathias) dates to difficult times in Slovene history. People imagined a good king, who would protect them from danger and never die. Instead, he and his army are said to be sleeping under Mount Peca. When needed, the king and his soldiers will awaken and protect their people.
5 • RELIGION
Although 90 percent of Slovenes claim to be Catholic, many fewer practice their religion by attending mass regularly or receiving the sacraments. But Slovene culture is inseparable from Catholicism. Small numbers of people belong to other religious groups. Besides the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Protestant Church (Lutheran) is the oldest.
6 • MAJOR HOLIDAYS
Religious holidays, such as Christmas, Easter, Assumption Day (August 15), and All Saints' Day (November 1) are recognized as national holidays. A few nonreligious holidays are also observed. Since gaining independence in 1991, Slovenes celebrate Statehood Day (June 25), and Independence Day (December 26).
Although the majority of Slovenes are Catholic, Reformation Day is also observed as a national holiday on October 31 to recognize the important role the Protestants played in establishing the identity of the Slovene nation. In 1550, is was the Protestants who published the first book in the Slovene language.
7 • RITES OF PASSAGE
Major life transitions are marked with religious ceremonies and celebrations appropriate to the Roman Catholic tradition followed by the majority of Slovenes. Such events as baptism, first communion, and confirmation are considered important rites of passage in a child's life.
8 • RELATIONSHIPS
When meeting, Slovenes exchange various greetings, depending on the time of day. Until 10 am, they say dobro jutro (good morning). During the day it is dober dan (good day). After dark one says dober vecer (good evening). The reply to all of the above is Bogdaj (May God grant you).
Slovenes, especially the young, often say zivijo (long life) when meeting friends and acquaintances. At parting, various phrases are used. The most common are nasvidenje (so long), adijo (goodbye) and, in the evening, lahko noc (good night). When Slovenes meet or part, they often shake hands.
Slovenes are courteous visitors and when invited to dinner will always bring small gifts. Hvala (thanks) is the word used to express gratitude, to which prosim (please) is the polite response. Prosim is also used when a request is put forward, or when a listener did not hear or understand what was said.
9 • LIVING CONDITIONS
Statistics show that the quality of life in Slovenia is good. Life expectancy for men is seventy years and for women seventy-six years. Mothers are entitled to one year's maternity leave so that they can stay with their babies and nurse them. Maternity leave is actually "parental" leave, as half of it can be used by fathers.
There is a shortage of housing. Apartments are small and modest. Very few children have their own rooms. Most share them with other siblings, sometimes even with parents. However, many people living in cities have small cottages, called vikendi, in the country, in the mountains, along rivers, or in spas where they spend their weekends.
Every family has at least one radio and television, while telephones and computers are somewhat less common.
10 • FAMILY LIFE
The majority of young people get married in their twenties and establish a family with one or two children. Families with three or more children are rare.
Slovenes maintain close relations with their parents, siblings, and extended families. In recent decades, younger husbands have begun to share responsibility for housework and the education of children. About half of all marriages end in divorce, and most children are left with their mothers. In general, divorce is easily obtained.
11 • CLOTHING
Slovenes wear modern, Western-style clothing. Young people love blue jeans and T-shirts. Women are mostly elegantly dressed and like Italian fashions, while men dress informally, even at the office.
12 • FOOD
Slovenes love breads and potatoes. Potatoes are served boiled, sautéed, deep-fried, or roasted, and are used in various dishes. Breakfast consists of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, and rolls with butter and jam. Zemlja, a special kind of hard roll, is especially popular. Some people skip breakfast and drink only strong coffee.
For lunch, the main meal of the day, people eat soup, meat, a main-course starch, vegetables, and a salad. Lunch is prepared by working mothers after returning from work and is eaten in the midafternoon. Supper is a light meal with salads, yogurt, and leftovers from lunch.
Slovenes have many traditional dishes, often prepared for celebrations. One of the most genuine festive Slovene foods is a rolled yeast cake, called potica, with sweet (walnuts, tarragon, raisins) or salty (cracklings or crisp pork fat) fillings. Potica is served at Christmas and Easter. Among traditional meat dishes, kranjske klobase (sau-sages, similar to Polish kielbasa) are well known, as are pork dishes (koline) in winter.
13 • EDUCATION
The Slovene literacy rate (ability to read and write) is almost 100 percent. Compulsory eight-year elementary education has been a legal requirement since 1869. About 90 percent of students who finish elementary school continue their education at the secondary level. Some go to four-year schools to prepare for higher studies, but many enter two-and three-year vocational schools. A school year lasts 190 days. Not all students graduate.
Those who finish take the upper-level comprehensive exam (velika matura), which enables them to enroll in university. There is no tuition in the public school system at any level for full-time students, but parents have to pay for the students' textbooks and other supplies. Since 1991, the law allows home-schooling and private schools, though there are few private schools.
14 • CULTURAL HERITAGE
Music has always been an important part of the Slovene culture. Vocal and instrumental music has ritual and entertainment functions. Folk songs are simple in form, lyrics, and music, and deal with love, patriotism, war, work traditions, changes of season, and religious and family holidays. In the past, folk singing was part of everyday life.
Slovenes have built hundreds of churches and numerous art galleries, which are testimony to a rich cultural heritage. Although influenced by particularly Slovene cultural characteristics, the literature, music, visual arts, architecture, and theater in Slovenia have been part of larger art movements in Central Europe. Slovene artists worked in the European art centers, and European masters came to Slovenia. The same is true today.
15 • EMPLOYMENT
Most employed people work a forty-hour week. Some industrious Slovenes work much longer. Besides holding jobs in factories and offices, many work second jobs, run their own businesses, or work on small, family-owned farms. Switching from a communist to a capitalist economy has been difficult.
16 • SPORTS
Slovenes like hiking, mountain climbing, biking, swimming, rafting and rowing, tennis, horseback riding, fishing, and many other sports. In winter, they ski and skate. Almost every child and adult owns a bike, and many ride bikes to school or the office every day. Skiing has a long history in this part of the world and is probably the most popular sport in Slovenia. Skis were invented in Slovenia at the same time as in Scandinavia. They were once a major means of transportation. Today, there are a few hundred thousand recreational skiers, from whose ranks competitive skiers are recruited. They compete internationally.
17 • RECREATION
Many schools organize dances for their students on weekends. Proms (maturitetni plesi) are traditional in elementary and secondary schools and are organized for graduates every year in the spring. Adults dance on various occasions. The polka and waltz are very popular, but Slovenes dance all major dances from the tango to the macarena.
Slovenes enjoy strolling, often in attractive old town centers, meeting people, chatting, and having a drink in small coffee shops, or kavarnas. Weekend trips to the mountains are also very popular. Slovenes enjoy walking in the woods and picking mushrooms to prepare them as culinary specialties.
Movies, concerts, and theater performances are enjoyed by many people. In Slovenia, concerts have greater attendance than soccer games. Young people enjoy listening to various jazz, rock, and pop groups. Although there are several local rock groups, young people listen mostly to popular American, English, and German groups. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Marley are known to every Slovene teenager. Television viewing has increased in the last decade. Besides Slovene television programs, Slovenes can also watch Italian, Austrian, English, and American television shows, including news on CNN.
18 • CRAFTS AND HOBBIES
Folk arts were mostly associated with crafts and decorating peasants' or, later, workers' homes. Painters often decorated furniture (for example chests, bed headboards, and cribs). Painting on glass was popular in the nineteenth century. Talented but unschooled folk artists often portrayed religious images and geometric patterns. Traditional Slovene crafts include pottery, woodenware, embroidery, lace making, candle making, gingerbread pastries, glass making, wrought iron, and clock making. Potters produce many useful objects such as pots, baking and roasting dishes, jars, pitchers, and goblets.
Woodenware (spoons, various kitchen utensils, toothpicks, and sieves) was produced in several centers. The best known of these, Ribnica Valley, is still active.
19 • SOCIAL PROBLEMS
Alcoholism is an old, persistent, and serious problem among Slovenes of all ages and both sexes. Consumption of alcohol has increased by about 25 percent during the last decade. Drug use has also increased, especially among young people.
Unemployment has always been a problem for Slovenes. At most times, it was solved by emigration. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, thousands of Slovenes emigrated to industrialized Europe and the United States. Economic emigration continued after World War II. Many emigrants returned home in the 1980s. Today, about 14 percent of Slovenes are out of work.
20 • BIBLIOGRAPHY
Benderly, Jill, and Evan Kraft. Independent Slovenia. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994.
Glenny, Michael. The Fall of Yugoslavia: The Third Balkan War. New York: Penguin, 1992.
Plut-Pregelj, Leopoldina, and Carole Rogel. Historical Dictionary of Slovenia. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1996.
Stanič, Stane. Slovenia. London, England: Flint River Press, 1994.
Embassy of Slovenia in Washington, D.C. [online] Available http://www.ijs.si, 1998.
National Supercomputing Center in Ljubljana. [Online] Available http://www.ijs.si/slo/, 1998.
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"Slovenes." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/slovenes
"Slovenes." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved September 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/slovenes
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ALTERNATE NAMES: Slovenci; Slovenians [both forms, Slovene and Slovenian, are used as noun and adjective]
LOCATION: Slovenia and regions of Austria, Italy, and Hungary along their Slovenian borders
POPULATION: 2,003,358 million, of whom 83.1% are Slovenes (2007 census)
LANGUAGE: Slovenian; in nationally mixed areas, also Italian and Hungarian and others
RELIGION: Roman Catholic, Muslim, Orthodox, other Christian, other or unspecified, none
Slovenes, a distinct South Slav people, originally located in the area northeast of the Carpathian Mountains, settled in the eastern Alpine region of Central Europe in the 6th and 7th centuries ad. Although they established a short-lived political entity, Karantania, in the 8th century, they obtained their own independent state only in 1991. For over 1,000 years, Slovenes lived under mostly German rule as part of the Holy Roman (962–1806), Austrian (1804–1867), and Austro-Hungarian (1867–1918) empires. During centuries of foreign rule, the Slovenes preserved their language and, in the last 200 years, formed a modern nation with a rich culture and aspirations for political independence.
In 1918, following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Slovenes joined with other South Slavs to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (in 1929 renamed Yugoslavia, meaning "the land of South Slavs"), but one-third of Slovene ethnic territory remained outside its borders. Within this new state, the Slovenes acquired institutions crucial for national development, among them a university and the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts.
World War II (1941–1945) was a traumatic experience for the Slovenes. Their territory was divided among three occupying powers: Germany, Italy, and Hungary. Many Slovenes died during the wartime liberation struggle, but many more—thousands—were killed in a bloody civil war, fought during World War II. Victorious Communists massacred over 10,000 anti-Communists in the spring of 1945. The Communist takeover triggered massive emigration from Slovenia and left deep political divisions, which persist to this day. In federally organized Communist Yugoslavia (after 1945), Slovenia, as a constituent republic, acquired its own constitution, as well as cultural and some political autonomy. With the demise of Communism in Europe, Yugoslavia fell apart in June 1991, after two of its constituent republics, Croatia and Slovenia, proclaimed their independence.
Since then, Slovenia has been an independent state and a republic with a parliamentary democracy. Slovenia joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU) in 2004. In January 2008 Slovenia became the first of the ten 2004 EU newcomers to hold the EU's rotating presidency.
LOCATION AND HOMELAND
The Republic of Slovenia borders on four countries: Austria in the north, Hungary in the northeast, Italy in the west, and Croatia in the east and south. It occupies a small (20,256 sq km or 7,821 sq mi, about the size of the US state of New Jersey) but geographically diverse area: the Alpine region in the west and north, the Subpannonian hilly terrain with large fertile basins in the northeast and east, the Dinaric Karst in the south and southeast and the fertile Slovene Littoral, with 46 km (29 mi) of Adriatic coast, in the southwest. Also, despite its small size, this eastern Alpine country controls some of Europe's major transit routes.
Slovenia's climate varies with its geographical makeup. The Alpine region has long, cold winters and short, cool summers; the Subpannonian area has a continental climate with cold winters, hot summers, and fluctuating daily temperatures; while a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters, is characteristic of the Slovene Littoral. Slovenia, half of its land covered with forests and enhanced by sufficient rainfall, is considered "green country on the sunny side of the Alps." Although mountains and karst areas are poorly suited for agriculture, they are beautiful, unique regions, which offer wonderful possibilities for tourism and sports. In fact, tourism is one of the most important branches of the Slovene economy.
Additionally, Slovenia can boast over 26 000 km of permanent and torrential water courses, about 6,500 karstic caves, thousands of springs, waterfalls and gorges, and its natural and artificial lakes. There are the karst-limestone regions with their reservoirs of subterranean water, as well as the remains of once formidable glaciers below the peaks of Triglav and Skuta. Triglav is the highest mountain in Slovenia. Its name means "three-heads." The mountain is 2,864 m high and is a true national symbol, featured on the national coat of arms and the flag.
Slovene archeological sites attest to several prehistoric and Roman settlements and to the strategic importance of the Slovene ethnic territory as a crossroads between northern and western Europe, and Europe's east and the south. The land originally settled by the Slovenes, south of today's Vienna, Austria, and east of Venice, Italy, was three times the size of the present Slovene ethnic territory. Not all Slovenes live within the boundaries of the Republic of Slovenia: Slovene minorities exist in neighboring Austria, Italy, and Hungary. Also, an estimated 2.5 million Slovene emigrants and their descendants live throughout the world, around 300,000 of them in the United States. Slovenes emigrated for various historic reasons. Poverty was the most prevalent reason before World War I, and fear of political persecution after World War II.
About 50% of Slovenes live in cities: in Ljubljana, the capital, with approximately 276,000 inhabitants; in Maribor, with 106,000 inhabitants; and in several smaller cities, each with under 50,000 inhabitants. Ljubljana is a unique city that maintains the friendliness of a small town, while possessing all the characteristics of a metropolis. It is considered to be a meeting point of the cultures of the east and the west, where the old interlaces in harmony with the new.
In the past, the Slovenes were mostly peasants and, before World War II, over 50% of Slovenes made their living from farming; in the 1990s, however, the number of peasant farmers had dwindled to 7%. After World War II, Slovenia rapidly industrialized, but did not become urbanized. Many Slovenes still live in the country while commuting to work in the cities. Preserving the countryside helps people to maintain close bonds with nature, Slovenian culture, customs, and habits. While being a very modern society, Slovenes place a great value in delicious home cooked meals, homemade wines and brandies, the traditional ceramic heating stove, and the captivating scent of new-mown hay. Both in the city and in the countryside people are hospitable and welcoming.
The language of Slovenes is Slovenian, which is the official language of the Republic of Slovenia. However, Hungarian and Italian are spoken in the border regions, and German fluency is common near the Austrian border. Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian are spoken by a sizable (6% of the population) minority.
Slovenian is a South Slavic language, closely related to Croatian and similar to other Slavic languages, e.g., Czech. Similarly to many other Slavic languages, it uses the Latin alphabet. It is spoken by approximately 2 million people in the Slovene ethnic territory, and by emigrants around the world. Natural boundaries (mountains and rivers) and the proximity of other language groups (Croatian, German, Hungarian, Italian) influenced the development of Slovenian and its division into several distinct dialects. In the past, spoken Slovenian, particularly that of uneducated people, borrowed many words from German, such as štumfi (from the German Strumpf) for nogavice (stockings). At present, slang, especially of youth, and technical language of professional groups are heavily influenced by English. In teenagers' talk, the English words "full" and "cool" are staple expressions of emphasis, e.g., To je ful dober! (This is very good!). Another often-used English expression is "OK".
Slovenes are proud of their language, but at the same time they are aware of the need to learn foreign languages to be able to communicate with their neighbors and the rest of the world. Thus, the majority of Slovenes speak at least one foreign language. In elementary school, all children begin to learn a foreign language in the fifth grade; in secondary school, students often study two or even three languages. The most-frequently taught foreign language is English, followed by German. In the border areas, with Italian and Hungarian and other minorities, those respective languages are also taught.
People are most often named after Catholic saints (Ana, Andrej, JoXe, Marija, MatevX). Also popular are old Slavic names, such as Iztok (source) or Vesna (spring). Family names are derived from people's occupations, e.g., Kmet (farmer), or KovaŤh (blacksmith); from locations where they live, e.g., Dolinar (one who lives in a valley), or Hribar (one who lives on a mountain); and from animals, e.g., Medved (bear), Petelin (rooster), or Volk (wolf).
Impressively, statistics indicate that over the centuries Slovenians accumulated 42,889 different first names (20,366 male names and 22,523 female names) and 88,157 different last names. Although some names are disappearing (such as Karol, Vilko, Radoslav, Hilda, Leopoldina, Fanika), other first and last names are being created or acquired from other countries.
Despite the extensive list of names to choose from, half of the population of Slovenia has one of the top 50 names. Two female and five male names are so popular that more than 20,000 people have one of this seven names. Thus, every eighth person in Slovenia (about 12% of the population) has one of the following names: Franc, Janez, Anton, Ivan, Jožef, Marija, or Ana.
Many Slovene folk traditions are associated with seasonal celebrations, dating to pre-Christian times. They were adopted, modified, and perpetuated by the Catholic Church. Slovene Carnival celebrations with parades, carnivals, and masquerade balls vary from region to region. Among them, kurentovanje in Ptuj is the most famous tourist attraction. The central figure is the kurent, whose fur clothing and unusual masks with horns, representing human and animal traits, evoke images of another planet. Always happy, the kurent is considered a harbinger of spring, fertility, and new life. Accompanied by a ceremonial plowman, he visits farms and wishes their owners a prosperous year. Adults and children enjoy the spring Carnival season, called pust (Mardi gras). The traditional pastries krofi and flancati (similar to doughnuts) are prepared. Costumed children, wearing masks, go from house to house, asking: "Do you have anything for Pusta, Hrusta?" People give them sweets and fruits. Adults attend masquerade balls. This tradition is similar to Halloween in the United States.
Slovene heroes are usually optimistic, wise, and cheerful. Stories about Kralj MatjaX (King Mathias), Martin Krpan, and Miklova Zala, for example, are introduced to children early in their lives. The story about Kralj MatjaX goes back to the diffi-cult times of the bubonic plagues, Turkish invasions, and famine in the 16th and 17th centuries. People elected a good king who would protect them from danger and never die. However, he and his army are said to be sleeping under Mt. Peca. When needed, they will awaken and protect their people. Another popular hero is Martin Krpan, a common Slovene person from a small village who is strong, wise, and cunning, who saved Vienna and the Austrian emperor from a Turkish ogre.
One of the most beautiful stories is of a Slovene woman, Miklova Zala, and also dates from the time of Turkish invasions. She epitomizes love and fidelity. Captured by the Turks, she was taken to Constantinople where she was sold to a pasha who wanted to marry her. Refusing to abandon her Christian beliefs and her husband, she succeeded in escaping. After long and challenging travels that lasted seven years, she was reunited with her husband. This story celebrates true love, the faith and beauty of Slovene women, love for homeland, courage, and strength.
Slovenes are mostly Roman Catholic. In the 8th century ad, Slovene worshipers of Slavic gods were Christianized by Irish missionaries. Since then, the Catholic Church has played a major role in preserving and cultivating Slovene language and culture. Although 90% of Slovenes claim to be nominally Catholic, considerably fewer practice their religion (go to mass regularly and receive the sacraments). But Slovene culture is inseparable from Catholicism.
Small numbers of people belong to other religious groups. The Evangelical Protestant Church (Lutheran), established during the 16th-century Reformation movement, is the oldest. Of recent groups, some are non-Christian, such as Hare Rama Hare Krishna. In the last decade, there has been more interest, especially among young people, in various spiritual movements. As of 2008, 38 other religious communities, spiritual groups, societies and associations were registered in Slovenia.
Religious holidays, such as Christmas, New Year's Day, Easter, Assumption Day (August 15) and All Saints Day (November 1) are recognized as national holidays. A few secular holidays are also observed. Since gaining independence in 1991, Slovenes celebrate Statehood Day (June 25), and Independence Day (December 26). Besides official celebrations with political speeches, cultural programs, fireworks, and receptions for diplomats, families and friends gather, light bonfires, picnic, and sing.
Since 1945, Prešeren Day (February 8) has been celebrated as a Slovene cultural holiday honoring the great Romantic poet France Prešeren. Cultural programs of all kinds (concerts, poetry readings, theater performances, and the presentation of the most prestigious national award for artists) take place in schools, cultural institutions, and the media.
Although the majority of Slovenes are Catholic, Reformation Day is also observed as a national holiday on October 31 to recognize the important role the Protestants played in establishing the identity of the Slovene nation. In 1550, they published the first book, Cathechismus, in the Slovene language, followed by other books, among them a translation of the Bible.
RITES OF PASSAGE
Major life transitions are marked with religious ceremonies and celebrations appropriate to the Roman Catholic tradition followed by the majority of Slovenes. Such events as baptism, First Communion, and confirmation are considered important rites of passage in a child's life.
When meeting, Slovenes exchange various greetings, depending on the time of day. Until approximately 10:00 am it is customary to use "dobro jutro!"; during the day, dober dan (good day); and after dark, dober vecer (good evening); to all of which the traditional reply is "Bogda!" (May God grant you). Slovenes, especially the young, often greet each other with "zivijo!" (long life). At parting, various expressions are used. The most common are "nasvidenje!" (so long), "adijo!" (goodbye) and, in the evening, lahko noc (good night). When Slovenes meet or part, they often shake hands.
In addressing a person, Slovenes use either the informal or the formal form. A friend or a close relative would be addressed with ti (informal for "you") and the verb in corresponding form; an older person, a teacher, or a stranger would be addressed with Vi (formal for "you"). Teachers in school are never addressed by their first name but rather with Gospod (Mr.) and Gospa (Mrs.). For example one would refer to a teacher as Gospod Kovac (or Mr. Smith). Students in elementary schools are addressed informally with ti, while in high schools and universities they are addressed formally with Vi.
Slovenes are courteous visitors and when invited to dinner will always bring small gifts: flowers for the hostess, a bottle of wine for the host, or candy for the children. It is considered rude to refuse what is offered, but, usually, it is good manners to decline politely once or twice before taking it. Hvala (thanks) is the word used to express gratitude, to which prosim (please) is the polite response. Prosim is also used when a request is put forward, or when a listener did not hear or understand what was said.
Slovenes tend to appear reserved at first, but are very friendly on acquaintance. Slovenes, usually friendly and hospitable, are eager to help a foreigner with information. They are quick to invite him or her home to share a meal. Among themselves, they value friendship, spend time together, and help each other build houses, move, or bring in the harvest.
It is not unusual to see Slovenes express their emotions, especially affection, in public places. This is especially true of teenagers, who can be seen in the streets and parks holding hands and kissing. Many old courting and dating customs, once popular particularly in villages, have died out, but a few are still observed. Just before young people marry, they organize pre-wedding parties: the dekliš Ťh ina (maiden party) is organized by a bride for her women friends, and the fantovš Ťh ina (bachelor party) by a groom for his men friends.
Statistics show that the quality of life in Slovenia is relatively good. Life expectancy for men is 72 years and for women 80 years. Mothers are entitled to one year's maternity leave so that they can stay with their babies and nurse them. Maternity leave could also be a "parental" leave, since half of it can be used by fathers.
With recent improvements in medicine, only 5 out of 1,000 newborn infants die. All children are vaccinated against the most common diseases and undergo regular medical checkups. Infectious diseases have been practically eradicated. Most Slovenes have public health insurance and reasonable pension plans. Slovenes die primarily of cancer and heart diseases; the latter account for 50% of all deaths. Cigarette smoking is less popular than in the past, however it remains a little below 30% of the population. Consequently, respiratory illnesses and problems associated with smoking and air pollution are common.
Public transportation (train and bus service) is well organized. Also, many families own a car. Young people can obtain a driving license when they turn 18. Owning a car in Slovenia is a status symbol. Hence, people spend a lot of money on cars. According to survey results from 2006, only 5% of households were not able to afford a car. Poor roads and inclement weather conditions contribute to fatal traffic accidents, which are commonplace.
Historically, there is a shortage of housing in cities; apartments are small and modest. Very few children have their own rooms and are bound to share them with other siblings, sometimes even with parents. However, many people living in cities have small cottages, called vikendi, in the countryside or resort areas where they spend their weekends.
Although statistics indicate longevity and the general good health of population, many Slovene families still face economic and financial constraints. Approximately 13% of households cannot afford decent meal every second day and 34% of households cannot afford a week of annual holiday away from home. At the same time every family owns at least one television. Computers are somewhat less common but over one million people possess mobile phones (2001 census).
The majority of young people get married in their 20s and establish a family with one or two children. Families with three or more children are rare. Because of the shortage and relatively high cost of housing, newlyweds often live with their parents for years before they are able to acquire their own home. Slovenes maintain close relations with their parents, siblings, and extended families. Even though Slovenes love their family, many marriages end in divorce, and most children are left with their mothers. In general, divorce is easily obtained.
According to 2the 2007 census, there were approximately 670,000 mothers in Slovenia. About 10% of women over 40 have never given birth. Throughout the years the role of mothers has changed significantly. If 50 years ago more than half of Slovenian women stayed home and took care of the family and household, today typical Slovenian mothers pursue professional careers. In fact, mothers in Slovenia are more active in their professional pursuits than mothers in other EU member states. At the same time employed mothers still perform the lion's share of the household chores. Recently, husbands began to share with their wives responsibility for housework and education of children. Yet credit for the family well-being is mainly due to Slovene women. A Slovene proverb says, "The wife supports three corners of the house."
Traditionally, women had their first child soon after getting married. However, today the average age of a woman at the first childbirth is 28 years. Women increasingly try to finish their education, get a good job, and purchase a place to live before they have a child. Thus, the tendency to have a first child after 30 is growing. Furthermore, more and more mothers give birth outside marriage. The share of children born to unmarried women has grown by significantly. The number of unmarried couples is growing too. If 50 years ago consensual unions were socially unacceptable, now they are commonplace, so that as many as 38% of second children are born to unmarried parents (2006 census).
On weekends, especially on Sundays, and in the evenings, families spend their time together. There are no shopping malls, and only a very few stores are open on Sundays. Th us, families go to church, take trips, hike, ski, collect mushrooms, visit each other, and enjoy long conversations. Many families visit relatives in the countryside on weekends and help them with work in the fields, orchards, and vineyards. This is especially true at harvest time. An increasing number of families own pets: dogs, cats, or birds are the most common.
Similar to other Europeans, Slovenes wear contemporary Western clothing. Young people prefer jeans and tee-shirts. Women like to dress up and especially favor Italian fashion, while men dress informally, even at the office: short-sleeved shirts in summer and woolen sweaters in winter. Recently it has become very popular to wear jewelry. Extreme body-piercing and tattooing are rare.
In the past, people wore hand-sewn garments. They were made from linen or wool and varied from region to region. Roughly, there were Alpine, Pannonian, and Mediterranean styles of clothing. However, regional differences in everyday attire disappeared in the late 19th century. At the same time, the Slovenes adopted the modified traditional costume of the Gorenjska region as their national costume. Since then, this traditional outfit was worn at public events and celebrations to emphasize national identity. Today, Slovenes wear the national costume only at folk festivals or traditional celebrations.
A woman's apparel consists of a long, dark brocade skirt, a white petticoat and underclothes, a bodice, a richly decorated headdress, colorful silk scarves, hand knit socks, and an ornate metal belt. A man's costume consists of a dark velvet vest, often embroidered, suede shorts worn over long white underwear, boots, a silk scarf, and a hat.
Most of the Slovene land is not suited for agriculture, thus not enough food is produced at home. While there is sufficient production of poultry, dairy products, and potatoes (the staple food since the 19th century), Slovenes import many basic foods such as oil, wheat, sugar, and meat. Food is expensive, costing most Slovenes at least half of the family budget.
In the past, mocnik, a dish similar to porridge made from wheat, buckwheat, or corn flour, was the most popular staple food among farmers, eaten twice a day. Meat was available rarely, the major source of protein being legumes. Vegetables and fruits varied with the season; sauerkraut and dried fruits were the source of vitamin C during the long winters. With the rise in the standard of living and new technologies (refrigeration, quick transport), Slovenes began to change their eating habits: meat became an everyday food, and regional and seasonal differences were no longer as distinct.
Slovene cooking has three major influences: Alpine, Mediterranean, and Pannonian. There are 30 recognized regional cuisines, each for example, serving its own type of bread. Famous regional foods include Primorska's fish and seafood and Karst's pršut (cured ham). Slovenes everywhere enjoy bread and potatoes. Potatoes are served boiled, sautéed, deep-fried, or roasted, and are used in various dishes including dumplings, soups, and stews. Breakfast consists of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, and rolls with butter and jam. Zemlja, a special kind of hard roll, is especially popular. Salami, cheese, and soft-boiled or fried eggs are also served for breakfast. Some people do not take breakfast and drink only strong coffee.
The main meal in the Slovenian diet is lunch. A typical Slovenian lunch begins with soup before moving on to the main course. The most popular Slovenian soup is Goveja juha z rezanci, a beef or chicken broth with noodles. Some other soups are Grahova juha (pea soup), Gobova kremna juha (creamed mushroom soup) and Zelenjavna juha (vegetable soup). The main course, accompanied by a side dish and salad, is followed by a dessert. Lunch is usually prepared by working mothers and is eaten in the mid-afternoon. Supper is a light meal with salads, yogurt, and leftovers from lunch.
One recent eating trend in Slovenia is the "slow food movement." A typical "slow food" meal takes place in a restaurant or at a private home among a group of family members or close friends. There are usually eight or more courses, the emphasis being on local produce, old-style recipes and a relaxed pace, with a different wine to accompany each course.
Slovenes have many delicious traditional dishes that they cook for holidays. One of the most genuine festive Slovene foods is a rolled yeast cake, called potica, with sweet (walnuts, tarragon, raisins) or salty (cracklings) fillings. Potica is usually made for Christmas and Easter. Among traditional meat dishes, kranjske klobase (sausages, similar to Polish kielbasa) are well known, as are pork dishes (koline) in winter.
Many restaurants offer a wide range of traditional national dishes, as well as international dishes like pizza, pasta, and oriental dishes. The coast offers excellent seafood, including shellfish and the Adriatic bluefish. Although eating out is expensive, Slovene gostilnas, traditional taverns, serve as popular gathering places, particularly in the country. They offer homemade dishes and pastries. The typical Sunday lunch menu in a Slovene gostilna includes beef or chicken soup with homemade noodles, pork or veal roast, sautéed or roasted potatoes, salad, and potica or strudel for dessert. Young people like pizza and adore eating in a newly opened American McDonald's.
Of alcoholic drinks beer and fruit brandies (e.g., sadjevec, slivovka— plum brandy) are served today, while in the past, medica (mead) was a common alcoholic drink. Above all, Slovenia is known for its great red and white wines. Winemaking has a long history in Slovenia. Its origins can be traced back to the 6th century BC. Popular nonalcoholic beverages are fruit juices and drinks made with fruit syrups (malinovec— with raspberry syrup), herbal teas, and, lately, Coca-Cola, especially among young people.
The Slovene literacy rate is almost 100%. Compulsory eight-year elementary education has been a legal requirement since 1869. All school-age children (6-14 years old) attend elementary school. At age 14, students take a lower-level comprehensive exam (mala matura), whose results influence students' further schooling. Some 90% of students who finish elementary school continue their education at the secondary level. Some go to four-year schools to prepare for higher studies, but many enter two- and three-year vocational schools. A school year lasts 190 days. Not all students graduate. Those who finish take the upper-level comprehensive exam (velika matura), which enables them to enroll in the university. About 33% of them continue their studies, but only 9% graduate. Social studies, e.g., law, business, and economics, are more popular than natural sciences. There is no tuition in the public school system at any level for full-time students, but parents have to pay for the students' textbooks and other supplies. Since 1991, the law allows home-schooling and private schools, which are few in number.
Education has long been the only channel of social promotion for Slovenes and is highly valued by parents, who expect their children to do well in school. Many students follow in their parents' profession. School attendance and studying are the major responsibilities for most students, and almost no elementary or high school students work during the school year. They do have summer jobs, some out of need, and others just to earn pocket money.
The educational system in Slovenia is almost fully financed by the state budget. The Slovene school system has undergone a number of changes in recent years. In light of the reforms, children enter elementary school at the age of six. Beginning in 1999, the length of elementary education has been increased from eight to nine years. Thus primary or elementary school now consists of nine-year program, and is divided into three three-year periods.
Upon completion of their elementary education children are expected to pursue secondary education, either in vocational schools, technical schools, or in gimanzija. Gimnazija is a four-year general education program designed to prepare students for university. Children of foreign residents can also receive education at all levels. Approximately 84% of secondary school graduates pursue further studies. In fact, the profile of Slovenia's population enrolled in higher education is improving. The number of students in vocational colleges and higher education institutions is increasing. In the academic year 2007/08, 115,445 students were enrolled in post-secondary vocational and higher education studies. This means that in the 2007/08 academic year 50% of all persons aged 19 to 23 were enrolled in post-secondary vocational and higher education institutions, while 10 years ago the share was below 30%. Large numbers of female students major in commerce, business administration, and accounting while the majority of men study mechanical engineering, electronics, computer science, and civil engineering. More than 85% of all university students are enrolled in the University of Ljubljana and the University of Maribor.
Music has always been an important part of the Slovene culture. Vocal and instrumental music has ritual and entertainment functions. Folk songs, usually sung in three- or four-part harmony, are simple in form, lyrics, and music, and deal with love, patriotism, war, work traditions, changes of season, and religious and family holidays. In the past, folk singing was part of everyday life, closely associated with group work, e.g., harvesting or spinning. Today, it plays an important role in churches, in traditional celebrations, and at social gatherings. For centuries, Slovenes have spent their free time singing in choirs, and choral singing has been an important hobby. At present, there are hundreds of choirs established in schools, organizations, and churches, wherever Slovenes live. Choral singing is also alive in Slovene emigrant communities, for example in Cleveland, Ohio. Choral performances include folk songs as well as works of Slovene classical and contemporary composers.
Instrumental music was traditionally performed on simple wind, string, and percussion instruments, made by local craftspeople employing materials at hand. The accordion, introduced in Slovenia in the late 19th century, quickly replaced more traditional instruments and became the most popular folk instrument of the 20th century. Today, the electric guitar is a popular instrument among young people. Music education is part of the elementary school curriculum.
Slovene history and culture are reflected in folk arts and literature. Many folk poems, fairy tales, short stories, proverbs, and riddles have been recorded and preserved for future generations. Old fairy tales (such as The Golden Bird), stories, and poems are still very popular among children and adults. Motifs in folk literature are often used by poets and writers as the inspiration for their literary work.
France Prešeren is considered Slovenia's most celebrated writer and poet. He is regarded to be a great leader of Slovenian culture, nationality and independence. His poetry modernized the Slovenian language. A portion of his poem "The Toast" is used as the national anthem. February 8, the day of Prešeren's death, is a national holiday celebrated by the entire country.
Slovenes have built hundreds of churches, wayside shrines, and towns with numerous art galleries, which speak of a rich and high-quality arts tradition throughout history. Although influenced by specific Slovene cultural characteristics, literature, music, visual arts, architecture, and theater have been part of Central European art movements, appearing approximately at the same time as anywhere else in that part of Europe. Slovene artists worked in the European art centers, and European masters came to Slovenia. The same is true today. Slovenes have had many important artists, some of whom they have honored by putting their likenesses on the new bank notes in 1992.
In short, modern Slovenia has a rich cultural life bustling with a myriad of theatres, cinemas, libraries, and educational facilities, and is well known abroad for its cultural exports.
Most employed people in Europe work a 40-hour week. Industrious Slovenes usually work much longer. Besides holding jobs in factories and offices, many moonlight, run their own businesses, and/or work on small family-owned farms. Under socialism, everybody had the right to work; hence, the state created jobs even if they were not needed. These policies were a double-edged blessing. While they provided some social security and minimal means for living, they also brought about economic conditions incompatible with a market economy, such as a lack of competition, inefficiency, and the high cost of goods. After 1990, several industrial plants were scaled down or closed, and thus unemployment became a serious social problem.
Post-independence economic reforms were implemented to mend unemployment and economic instability. Current data indicates that in December 2007 there were 864,361 employed persons, 43.3% of whom were women. The Employment Service of Slovenia reported 68,411 unemployed persons, 53.7% of whom were women. At the end of 2007 the unemployment rate was 7.3%: 8.9% for women and 6.1% for men.
Slovenes enjoy sports: hiking, mountain climbing, biking, swimming, rafting and rowing, tennis, horseback riding, fishing—the list goes on. In winter people ski and skate. Almost every child and adult owns a bike, and many ride it to school or the office every day. Skiing has a long history in Slovenia, and is probably the most popular sport. Skis were invented in Slovenia independently at the same time as in Scandinavia and were once a major means of transportation. Today, there are a few hundred thousand recreational skiers, from whose ranks competitive skiers are recruited. They compete internationally in all skiing disciplines: downhill, slalom, jumping, and cross-country, and have won medals at Winter Olympic Games.
Davo Karničar is one of the most renowned alpine skiers in Slovenia. In 2000 he became the first person to ski nonstop down Mount Everest. He has also skied Mont Blanc and Annapurna in the Himalayas. Another famous Slovenian athlete is a marathon swimmer Martin Strel. Strel's records include swimming the entire length of the Danube River in 2000, and swimming the length of the Mississippi River in 2002.
ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION
Many schools organize dances for their students on weekends. Proms (maturitetni plesi) are traditional in elementary and secondary schools and are organized for graduates every year in the spring. Adults dance on various occasions: weddings, traditional celebrations such as Martinovanje (Celebration of New Wine) in the fall, and masquerade balls (pustovanje— Mardi gras) in the Carnival season. The polka and waltz are very popular, but Slovenes dance all major known dances from the tango to the macarena.
Slovenes enjoy strolling, often in attractive old town centers, meeting people, chatting with them, and having a coffee or a drink in small coffee shops, or kavarnas. Trips on weekends to neighboring mountains are also very popular. Slovenes enjoy walking in the woods and picking mushrooms to prepare them as culinary specialties.
Movies, concerts, and theater performances are enjoyed by many people. In Slovenia, concerts are attended by more people than are soccer games. Young people enjoy listening to various jazz, rock, and techno groups. Although there are several local rock groups, young people listen mostly to popular American, English, and German groups. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Marley are known to every Slovene teenager. Television-viewing has increased in the last decade. Besides Slovene TV programs, Slovenes can also watch Italian, Austrian, English, and American TV shows, including news on CNN.
FOLK ART, CRAFTS, AND HOBBIES
Folk arts were mostly associated with crafts and decorating peasants' or, later, workers' homes. Painters often decorated furniture (e.g., chests, bed headboards, and cribs). Painting on glass was popular in the 19th century. Talented but unschooled folk artists often portrayed religious motifs, motifs from popular folk stories, and events from everyday life. Geometric patterns were also popular.
Many traditional Slovene crafts are unique and deserve attention, among them pottery, woodenware, embroidery, and lace-making, and crafts related to candle-making, gingerbread pastries, glass-making, wrought iron, and clock-making, to name a few. As the conditions of life vary from region to region, so do the crafts. With the development of industrial production after World War II, many crafts almost died out. Some were kept alive, and others have been revived in the last few decades to preserve Slovene cultural traditions.
Pottery-making, among the oldest of traditional crafts, has developed in various Slovene regions. In some of them potters are still active today. Potters produce many useful objects: pots, baking and roasting dishes, jars, pitchers and goblets for wine and drinks, whistles, toys, musical instruments, and ceramic tiles for stoves. Beautifully shaped and decorated, they are still popular in Slovenia today. Woodenware (spoons, various kitchen utensils, toothpicks, and sieves) was produced in several centers, the best-known of which, the Ribnica valley, is still active. In the past, Ribnica artisans traveled throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire, selling their handmade products.
Alcoholism is an old, persistent, and serious problem among Slovenes of all ages and both genders. It is disturbing that the consumption of alcohol increased by about 25% during the 2000s. Yearly, the average Slovene drinks 11 liters (3 gallons) of hard liquor and 60 liters (16 gallons) of wine. Drug abuse has also increased, especially among young people. The number of smokers has decreased for the past decade, but still a sizable 29% of the population smokes.
Except for the 50 years under Communist rule, unemployment has always been a problem for Slovenes. Usually it was solved by emigration. In the late 19th and 20th centuries, thousands of Slovenes emigrated to industrialized Europe and the United States. Economic emigration continued after World War II. Due to the world recession in the 1980s, many emigrants returned home. With the change in the economic and social systems in Slovenia in the early 1990s, unemployment began to rise, reaching 14% of Slovenes out of work in 1996. In 2008 unemployment had been reduced to 7%, but still remains a major social problem.
Although since the 1990s the standard of living improved, 12% of the population in Slovenia remains below the poverty threshold. The share for young people aged 16–24 amounts to 12.4%: 11.4% for men and 13.6% for women. The unemployment rate is the highest among young people aged 15 to 24.
Today the position of women in Slovenia is not ideal, but it is better than in some other European countries. The majority of young women choose to postpone getting married and having children, focusing instead on education and professional careers. The share of women in vocational colleges and higher education institutions is continually growing, amounting to 58.3% of tertiary students in 2008. Furthermore, in Slovenia the female employment rate is 61.8%, while in the EU it is 57.2%. In the past, prestigious universities clearly favored male applicants. Now this trend is changing. It is true that among doctoral candidates men still prevail, but probably not for long. Although men and women have equal opportunities for education, certain disciplines are particularly popular among women, while others are reserved for men. Thus in 2006, 68.7% of student enrolled in the fields of social science, business, and law were women. Yet, the fields of natural science, mathematics, and computer technology are dominated by men, with women representing only 2.6% of graduates. Similarly, the fields of engineering, manufacturing, and construction are dominated by male students, while women represent the highest share of graduates (80%) in the fields of education, health care, and social work.
According to EU data, since 2000 women took 7.5 million new jobs out of the total of 12 million available. Since 2000 there has been a steady increase in female employment. Male employment increased as well but at a significantly lower rate.
At the same time, even though the majority of women have a university education and are often better educated than men, their employment rate is on average 10 percentage points lower than that of men. Women earn 15% less per hour than men do and it is quite challenging for them to achieve high positions in administration, management, and government. The share of women managers is growing very slowly; in 2008 they accounted only for 33% of managers. In sum, while the Slovenian constitution includes provisions for anti-discrimination laws, women and minorities regularly face inequality and bias. Though laws exist to protect women from harassment and violence, women are still subject to abuse due to the remnants of the patriarchal nature of Slovenian society.
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—revised by A. Golovina Khadka
"Slovenes." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/slovenes-0
"Slovenes." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. . Retrieved September 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/slovenes-0