Many of us celebrated a day for love last month with St Valentine’s Day on 14 February. But in some countries in Europe, there are more days in which to celebrate love. Today, 12 March, in Slovenia, is Saint Gregory’s Day – Gregorjevo – the Slovene Valentine’s Day.
St. Gregory was a sixth-century monk who became Pope. Saint Gregory is said to have made many acts of kindness. Today, Saint Gregory is remembered as the patron saint of schoolchildren and scholars.
Originally, Saint Gregory’s day was celebrated on the first day of spring. With the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, this fell on the 12th of March.
Today is still considered the start of spring. It is said that on this day, birds are joined in wedlock – having found their partner a month before, on Saint Valentine’s Day.
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On this day, people hung baked goods in the trees and bushes. These are left-overs from the birds’ weddings, which children would search for. In another custom from the past, young women would look up at the sky – the first bird they saw would indicate what type of husband they will marry.
Nowadays there is really only one tradition that is still active. Lights are floated down rivers and other bodies of water, since it is the day when Saint Gregory tosses the light into the water.
Children build miniature boats and houses (called ‘gregorčki’) for the lights and send them downstream.
By Tina Enci, National and University Library, Slovenia
This blog post is a part of the Europeana Common Culture project, which explores varied aspects of our shared cultural heritage across Europe.