Bonfires in Ljubljana

May 1st has been enacted as a Slovenian National Holiday in the year 1948 and as the rest of European community we now proudly celebrate it as the international Holiday of the Working Class called Labour Day.


The origin of this celebration is known to date back to Pagan customs in Europe when with the beginning of May people were celebrating the beginning of Summer and Fertility.  It is said that the origin of the name for the month May ( Maj in Slovenian) in more than 2000 years old and is named after the Ancient Goddess Maja and the belief were that thanks to nature reached its exploding growing peak because of her. But Goddess Maja couldn't do everything on her own and this is where the tradition of lighting bonfires comes into the picture.

In the old beliefs, the Sun was illustrated by fiery Kersnik. Maja couldn't do everything on her own and she needed Kersnik to help her sustain the continuation and prosperity of nature growth.  Maja and Kersnik are the male and female symbols for that are needed for the continuation of life. Through lighting the Spring bonfires people were trying to help the mighty Sun to warm up and shine with its full strength. These original Pagan Celebrations were known to be filled with singing and dancing and they lasted well into the night. Although the function and essence of this celebration is now social in nature and no longer has any mystical rituals or meanings, the bonfires are still a tradition in Slovenia.

On the eve of the 1st, May bonfires will be lit across the country. The tradition is old and well preserved so almost every city and every village will probably hold a celebration.


In Ljubljana, we have a very traditional Bonfire at Rožnik Hill. Rožnik is a 391m high hill to which many recreational trails lead from the lovely Tivoli Park. The traditional and the biggest bonfire in Ljubljana is lit at the beautiful pink Church of Marys Visitation that stands on top of Rožnik Hill. A concert is also organised every year so the celebration is still full of singing and dancing.  And the Bonfire is very big and glorious of course.


Copyright by: Slovenian House

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