The Celts did not populate the Alps. Therefore, the Vendic people there preserved their cultural tradition in its relatively original condition. In the Eastern Alps, after the decline of the Roman Empire, arose the duchy of Carantania. It was a State of Slovenians, who were still a pagan people. After Christianization, carried out after 750 AD, several pagan deities associated with Christian Saints. As it seems, St. Martin replaced the god of winter, not only in Carantania but all over Middle Europe.
In Slovenian territory his most authentic figure appears in Carnival processions with masked people, where he represents the central figure. Normally, he is called Pust (Shrovetide). Anyway, in the region of Ptujsko polje (Ptuj/Pettau field), he presents himself in a very ancient shape and he bears a particular name. It is about the masked figure called Korant, or Kurent. In the sense of his looks and his mysterious meaning, this figure is certainly unique.
In the Korant's masque two elements symbolize the ancient cosmic principles: the horns (meaning sun-rays) on the top, in front the beak and the great wings (meaning a celestial origin) on both sides of his head. His long red tongue (symbolizing procreation) is very probably of pre-historic origin. Of much later origin must be regarded his belt of chain, on which five bells are suspended. The sheepskin coat, in which he is dressed, remembers the period of herders, in which the ancient Lord of Animals appears as Wolves' Herder.
Even nowadays, in Middle Europe, children and people in masques walk in processions through the streets on certain holidays, and go from house to house. The children, and in former times also poor people, wished good fortune and prayed for the dead. In return they received small gifts and treats. In Slovenia, St. Barbara Day (December 4th) is the first of such holidays, when people start to go round from house to house. Then follows St. Nicolas Day (December 6), when the benevolent bishop, accompanied by angels and horned devils, visits each home. Between Christmas and New Year, a special procession is held every year in the village of Srednja vas, in Bohin Valley. Among the participants we find lads in masques, called otepovci. The church in this village is consecrated to St. Martin.
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