Archive for December 26th, 2006

Well this Christmas I pasted off with friends at home so the 26th I decided to go to town and see what was going on and what Slovenes do during this holiday.

Walking into town I noticed that there were very few young people out and in fact I seemed to be one of the few less than 40-50 years old that I could see. Most people in the suburbs were catching up on grocery shopping at the local super and hyper markets as despite it being a holiday here they seemed to be doing brisk business.

lj-winter-tivali-park-slo-06-jw.jpgAs I came through the Tivoli park I saw the roller park was converted into an ice rink and many people and kids were taking advantage of the nice weather to have some recreation and fresh air in this way. I might try it some other day with some freinds if I get time.

In coming down the walking street past the old post office I was approached by a woman with a microphone and guy with a large video camera, they asked me what I thought of “pyrotechnics” (fireworks), they were from a local TV channel (POP TV) and were trying to get a feel from the street of people’s opinions regarding that.

As she explained later, it is normally illegal to buy fireworks (other then little crackers and sprinkler sticks), the government however suspends this ban for a few weeks till January 2nd for people to buy, sell and explode such things for Christmas and New Years.

I told her I think it is better when the city does it and I’m looking forward to what the city of Ljubljana does this year as it no doubt will be great to see around the castle and Ljubljanica.

My friends gave a donation to the local fire department that I think is a better way to do it, as they have the knowledge and insurance that covers such activities. I for one being a visitor here I really do not need a New Years trip to the emergency room for burns at this time or an eardrum rupture. It’s just not worth the little fun for the risks in my opinion.

It seems more of a commercial advantage to this ban lifting that I frankly think is unnecessary and probably just the lobbying of the fireworks industry to cash in on this holiday time from the private sector (who already have contracts with cities, town halls and fire stations etc) or keep the black-market sells down, either way it is dangerous to allow high-power explosives to anyone simply because they enough cash to buy it.

lj-winter-fair-concert-slo-06-jw.jpgI then went down to the Preseran square and saw they had a large stage set up and getting ready for a night of free concerts (on the city’s tab) and back up bands testing the equipment.

There was an unusually long line of people making their way into the old church so I decided to follow them in and found they had a fascinating setup of a nativity scene complete with colored lights, figurines and even a small waterfall. I never had time to see the church before but aside from the nativity display this was a very old and historically beautiful building inside and should be visited even if you normally would not, it’s one of the treasures of the old town and today I was able to see why.

christmas-market-slo-06-jw.jpgI then went walking down the Christmas market and got some nick-knacks for friends, I did not realize how big it was and how many booths, but this really is a great thing and bustling with people all the way down the river and all around the market square as well.

Despite the cold everyone was out in the old town and once the kids program started on stage there must have been thousands of people out filling the square, “three bridges” and on down the riverfront, this town knows how to have fun and put on a good show, and the town inhabitants have a good time and show up en-force.

This Christmas concerts include big name Croatian singers including the heart-throb Gibonni, (every girl in Croatia and Slovenia aged 15-50 is in love with him) Petar Grašo, Danijela and the relatively newcomer Slovene singer/songwriter Nashia among others.

How it seems to work here (and I’ve talked with some city event planners in Croatia) and in virtually every large city in this area I’ve been to the city organizes free city concerts usually in conjunction with a city fair (where the city rents booths to venders to recoup some of the expense) be it summer or winter and then try to get big name acts (depending on their city or municipal budget) to throw these concerts in the town squares often competing for talent with rival towns.

This year Ljubljana basically copied the autumn concert season line-up as these artists have all done the rounds nationally to sell-out crowds in hotels, concert halls and casinos for ticket sells and now hve got hired to repeat it for the capital city’s New Year bash.

Music is a great leveler and one of the areas that these countries are willing to “overlook” being from another country. Many Slovenes say the Croatian language sounds better in song then their language and so Croatian singers capitalize on that advantage in this way as their logic and experiences and expressions are still very much from the same school of thought. Bosnian and Serb rhythms and music (turbo folk) also find some appreciation amongst Croatian audiences so they all seem to be able to hit the right note, as least for the time being and room for all of them to shine in this obviously small language market.

I really hope some day there will be musicians from this area that can think past the stereo-type and initial ostracism to make cross-over music with their rhythms in English for the world. It would not be easy but I know this is a important element still missing in the self-confidence effort needed in taking these nations on the world stage.

Where would the Swedish band ABBA be in international music history if they only sang in Swedish? everyone here understands English, but to sing it they have to sing a western song, not one of their own.

The program tonight was mainly for kids but it was great to see how they ushered in the St. Nik on a wagon pulled buy Slovenia’s treasured and world renowned Lipica horses that added a unique touch to the night that otherwise included dancing snowman and kids action songs on stage, not really my thing, but I hope to catch a concert or two over the next few nights.


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