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Before we begin, here's a pronunciation primer: “koo-rahn-toh-VAHN-yay.”
Go ahead; we'll wait while you say it again: “koo-rahn-toh-VAHN-yay.”
Okay, now that you can properly pronounce Kurentovanje, let’s get the party started.
Held in Slovenia each year, Kurentovanje is a colorful, ethnically rich festival that joyously bids adieu to winter while ushering in springtime. The festival and parade center around the use of traditional Slovenian masks and costumes.
But you don't have to travel overseas to experience it: just head to Cleveland Feb. 22. There will of course be plenty of food, dancing, booze, and high-quality merrymaking. Think: Mardi Gras Carnival with an Eastern European flair.
The festival is driven by the constant presence of Kurants: tall, furred and feathered “monsters” who boast long black beaks, elongated red tongues, belts with huge bells and streamers hung from their winged heads.
The primary function of these massive beasts? Scare away winter and welcome spring. For that reason alone, they’re actually quite lovable.
As bizarre as these creatures might seem upon first encounter, we here in Cleveland can’t take credit for creating them. They’re actually imported directly from Slovenia, where their presence is a pre-Lenten tradition.
In 2013, the St. Clair Superior neighborhood adopted the Slovenian celebration right here in Cleveland. If you didn’t know, Northeast Ohio is home to the largest population of Slovenians living outside of Slovenia. Cleveland even houses a Slovenian Consulate. So, the decision to host such an event was a no-brainer.
This year's Cleveland Kurentovanje happens on Feb. 22, 2019 and is headquartered at the Slovenian National Home (6417 St. Clair Ave.) and includes a myriad of activities starting with its annual parade through the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood.