Friday night was France Prešeren’s birthday! (Prešeren is the most famous Slovenian poet, and the center square in Ljubljana–Prešernov Trg–is named after him). In honor of his birthday, and the Christmas season, the annual tree-lighting was held.
At just before 5, Meleah and I went down to the Trg, where we met up with our friend Sylvia, who we met on a field trip to Ribnica, Slovenija, with my language class. In the Trg, we saw the hugest swarm of people I’ve ever seen, anywhere in the whole country! Everyone was out and about, waiting for the lights.
On the steps of the Prešeren statue, a group of school children was gathered, singing songs in his honor and holiday tunes. Poems were read over a speaker system, and after about 45 minutes of Christmas music and cheer, there was a countdown…
All the pretty lights flashed on for the first time. Everyone clapped and cheered, and began snapping photos and rushing around to the new Christmas market, which also opened yesterday. Wooden shacks now line the streets of Ljubljana, some selling handmade wares, some selling holiday decorations, and others with kuhano vino (mulled wine) or marone (chestnuts). That’s right: there are literally chestnuts roasting on an open fire every few yards around the city center. So classically Christmas, so picturesque!
As more Christmas tunes played, and we walked back to our apartment, I couldn’t help but think: it’s like all the Whos in Whoville came out to celebrate! :) Perfect opening to the Christmas season.