The evening before St. Gregory’s day is a very special time for children in Tržič. On March 11, it is the time to let the light down the water and also the time when the birds have their wedding feast. Preparation for this holiday is taking place weeks before the event, because little houses have to be made from wood, paper, moss and other materials. And when the dusk falls, they add the final detail – a small candle for the interior which is lit and then the house floats down Tržiška Bistrica river, meeting many other floating houses on the way.
And that is also the time when children are looking for sweets left from the birds’ wedding feast. In Slovenian tradition, this is also the time we celebrate love and spring, so parents were hiding sweet treats in the bushes. Children were overjoyed when they found them.
The whole event stems from ancient traditions, where the elements of fire and water are joined together to form new life. That is why the elements of fire, such as bonfires and burning brooms are featured in the celebration. However, in later times this part was explained with the fact that the day is long enough and the workers did not need other light than sunlight to work, so they symbolically ‘threw the light in the water’.
This tradition is also observed in other parts of Gorenjska region, in Kamna Gorica, Kropa and Železniki. They are all historically connected with Tržič and its tradition. In recent years, bigger towns such as Kranj and Ljubljana have also adopted this lovely event. So many Slovenian towns are greeting spring in this special way.
For those wanting to know more about this tradition I warmly recommend a book called Gregorjevo by dr. Bojan Knific.