From Fat Thursday until Ash Wednesday the streets of Cerknica traditionally host the famous carnival festivities. From 20th till 26th February 2020 the town will once again change its name into »Butale«. This is the time when visitors can enjoy the lively atmosphere of one of the biggest Carnivals in Slovenia.

Carnival has a different theme each year (“Olympics in Butale”, “Year of the frog”, “40 bewitched” …). In 2020 the festivities will be joined under the name “Hojladrija, Ribičija”. We can try to put it in English: “Hoyladree, Fishery”. It should rhyme. If it rhymes, it’s good.



  • Thursday, 20th February – Žaganje babe (Sawing of the witch)
    from 4 PM till 5 PM

The carnival festivities will begin on the Fat Thursday with traditional »Sawing of the witch«. It is said, that the event has its origins in the past, when women needed some time to make all the culinary specialties, but children distracted them. Mothers told youngsters to go outside and see, how the witch is being sawed, so children hurried outside and ran all over the town to find the famous »sawing of the witch«. Of course, they didn’t find anything, but instead came back home in the evening very tired and disappointed. In the meantime their mothers made all the food.

The name »Sawing of the witch« remained, but actually the witch is not being sawed, so they just saw the piece of wood in half and Mayor of Cerknica symbolically transfers the authority to carnival mayor for a week.


  • Friday, 21st February – TV Čohovo
    Kulturni dom (house of culture) Cerknica – from 7 PM till 9 PM

A drama act, where “Butalci” and other carnival characters inform visitors what’s going on in Butale, what happened before and what will happen next. Of course they also discuss world problems and events, which took place in the previous year. There is also a number of funny acts, musical performances and most importantly, the big speech of the carnival Mayor.


  • Saturday, 22nd February – Children’s’ Masquerade
    Cerknica sports hall – from 3 PM till 6 PM

Saturday is traditionally reserved for the youngest. Animators, magicians, musical acts and more will be in Cerknica sports hall, just to entertain a big group of children – but they aren’t regular children today – they are little Batmen, Supermen, soldiers, cowboys, princesses, cats, bears, witches and so on. In the evening there is also a Masquerade party for their parents and everyone else, who is old enough to mingle with the adult witches and “Butalci”


  • Sunday 23rd February – A Carnival “Hoyladree, Fishery”
    exactly around 12:32 on the streets of Cerknica

A Carnival in Cerknica (a.k.a. Butale) is well known for its great figures – Witches Uršula and Liza, Frog, Pike, Dragon, Jezerko (green “man” who lives under the water of Cerknica Lake), Hedgehog and so on. Figures were made by academic artist Milan Rot and graphic designer Martin Petrič. They measure up to 10 meters in length, are made out of foam and driven through the streets of Butale by various means of transport.


  • Shrove Tuesday, 25th February – TV Čohovo (rerun)
    Kulturni dom (house of culture) Cerknica – from 7 PM till 9 PM

Even though this is the day, when carnival should be at its finest, in Butale everything is upside down. This is the day, when inhabitants of “Butale” can visit other places and see, that their sweet home is still the best place for them. In the evening they can watch a rerun of Friday’s “TV Čohovo” in “Kulturni dom” in Cerknica – in case they didn’t understand all the jokes and they need to see them again.


  • Ash Wednesday, 26th February – the funeral
    from 4 PM till 5 PM

Every good thing must come to an end and so must the carnival. “Pust” dies, is cremated and then thrown in Cerkniščica (the stream that flows through Cerknica) to eliminate any option of him still being alive. Some enthusiasts follow him in ice cold water, festivities come to an end and the town of Butale becomes Cerknica once again.

Carnival figures


Ursula The Witch

Ursula The Witch is the first big carnival figure that made a debut at the Cerknica Carnival, and that is for a good reason. Valvasor wrote about a hole on the top of Slivnica mountain in his famous book The Glory of the Douchy of Carniola, saying that this is where the witches meet up and cook up storms. Butalci quickly figured out that storms and carnival don’t go well together, so they tried to talk to the witches, and the especially the great mother Ursula, to arrange good weather in that part of the year.
During the preparations for the carnival, the first invite is thus always sent to Slivnica first, to Ursula. This is all we can do to stay safe from the storms that are always cooking up in the big pot on Slivnica, under a watchful eye of the witches congregations.

Summarised after J. V. Valvasor:

On Slivnica, there is a hole that produces storms. On the top, the witches, moths and bastards have their dances and meetings. You can see them as tiny flying lights. In general, the land around here is very well stocked with witches. This is why they are often burned and they burn a lot of them. Sometimes, more witches end up on the burning stake than in the whole land since the beginning of times sat on the stake and was cremated. This is why they are carefully hiding. This vermin isn’t completely eradicated yet, there are still sparks found under the huge pile of ashes that could ignite this or that woodpile.

This is what polymath Janez Vajkard Valvasor wrote in his world-famous book, The Glory of the Douchy of Carniola. Now, a few hundred years later, we can only confirm his words. Our carnival is impossible to pull off without the compromise with the witches. The slightest mistake on our side causes them to cook up a storm on the day of the carnival and trust us – everything is upside down if that happens. Or actually, everything is upright, as »upside-down« is a natural state in the town of Butale.

Jezerko (Lakeman / Water Man)

Jezerko is the main culprit for our lake being the way it is. They say: »Lake it is, lake it isn’t«. Even though in the year of 2014, the more correct saying would be: »Lake it is, lake it is even more«.

However, it wasn’t always like that. Cerknica field was a dry field just like all the other ones. All until the waterman Jezerko helped the young Šteberčan paddle from his side of the valley to the other side, where the lovely miss Karlovčan lived. Her hostile father gave him this impossible challenge. Jezerko advised the young man to plug all the holes where water flows away, a lake formed and the young prince was able to paddle to his loved miss. Of course, the castles and lords are long gone, only the lake remained, here and there. And Jezerko, the Lake Man. This one got locked up a few years back, the farming lobby of Butale was very strong, the farmers wanted to sow and harvest in the dry lake. Jezerko, of course, was seen as the main culprit for the yearly flooding.

Generations changed and many people forgave him for that mistake, but ideas of him being locked up again come up after every big flood.

Šteberčan and Karlovčan

Adapted after Jožef Žirovnik, 1898

A long time ago, two castles stood on opposite ends of the lake – the Karlovški castle and the Šteberški castle. First, one was built next to Mala Karlovica above Svinjska cave, and the other one across the lake beneath the Križna mountain. The two lords were mortal enemies.   Many years before, it happened that the lord Šteberški killed lord Karlovški out of jealousy. Immense hatred started between the two kinships and never ended.

It was different from the kids of both lords. The son of Šteberčan and daughter of Karlovčan fell in love despite big opposition from their parents. The son of Šteberčan planned to ask lord Karlovčan, her miss’s father, for her hand in marriage, but the Lord gave him a challenge: come get her in a boat. The young Šteberčan, desperate in this impossible task, met a big, hairy man, who rose from the cave where spring water disappears. The Lake Man felt sorry for the young knight, so he advised him what to do – he should build a strong net and close the swallow hole. Since the water couldn’t drain away to the depths, it truly did flood the whole valley and formed a lake.

Despite the fact, that the young Šteberčan came to get his bride on a lake in a boat, her father wasn’t respecting the agreement. The young knight didn’t give up and kept coming back every night and his miss left a light on the window, so he wouldn’t get lost.

The beauty of the lord Karlovški’s daughter was well known far and wide. All sorts of suitors would stop at the castle. She, however, was committed to the young Šteberčan and dismissed all suitors, until one of them found out what was happening at night.

The jealous suitor took the light from the castle’s window and moved it about Karlovica swallow hole. Unsuspectingly, the young Šteberčan paddled straight into it. The foaming waves buried him into the cold grave. When the beautiful daughter of lord Karlovški found out about the faith of her darling, she jumped over the castle’s wall into the lake and drowned.

The Pike

The pikes of Cerknica are something special. They are very big, they grow quickly and they don’t like to bite. Our ancestors shamelessly ran around the lake when it started drying up, catching these majestic fish. Today, things are different – as the lake dries up, so do pike. We’re not yet sure if this is because our ancestors caught so many of them (if we had the chance to ask them, we’re sure this is what they would say), or if there is another reason. The fact is, that there isn’t pike like this one in the lake anymore. Except if you ask the fisherman. Apparently, the carnival pike is up to natural scale. The author, painter Milar Rot, made it exactly to the measurements, given to him by still unknown local fisherman, who, according to his own words, caught a pike this size.

The Dragon

The dragon is an exceptionally important animal for people of Butale – they even have it depicted in their coat of arms. Even so, the dragon’s young (as Valvasor named the human fish) are quite a common creature in our neck of the woods.

However, since none of the Butalci have really seen an adult dragon in those times, interesting theories started forming. The first one was »tepanjska«, saying that the dragon in the Butale coat of arms isn’t even a dragon, but a bull. Then, this kind of dragon doesn’t even exist. All known records and descriptions of the dragons supposedly showed that this creature is actually the Major’s mother in law – the people of Butale have indeed had the opportunity to see her, and it is true that of all the living creatures of that time, it resembled most to a description of a dragon.

The dragon spent his time in the underworld, the gossipy wife and the young dragons would tell him the stupidities, told about him in Butale. Because everything has a limit, the dragon decided to show himself in all his glory to the Butalci and disprove all these conspiracy theories.

The dragon and Butale

Adapted from Butalci by Fran Milčinski 

The town of Butale was growing and the only thing missing from perfect excellence was the coat of arms. They philosophizing long and hard and on the fourth day in the fourth tavern, they figured that the coat of arms has to be exquisite, like the town of Butale. So, the coat of arms has to have the most exquisite animal they ever heard of, the dragon. So they said: »The dragon is the most exquisite animal to look at and to say out loud since it is incredibly dangerous, it will fill the enemy with fear and dread.«

In Butale, they had a painter named Doodle, he was a painter for houses and shrines and fences and craftsmen and generally everyone. He accepted the job and promised and he truly painted and was extremely pleased with his work. The people of Butale were pleased as well. They stared at it, nodded and praised, how good it looks and how they’ve never seen a dragon looking that similar.

Until Tepanjčani (people of a rivalling town) got involved: »Haha, people of Butale have a coat of arms, they have a bull in the coat of arms, a stupid bull!« So people of Butale had to take this insult and realised that indeed, the dragon of their coat of arms looks very similar to a bull. Doodle the painter was tremendously outraged and cursed: »Who is the one who dares to say and prove that the dragon isn’t painted fairly and precisely! Put a live dragon in front of me and we’ll see if it looks alike.« And then, you know, the police officer of Butale had to chase the dragon. And so on.

Frog Rego Vranjejamski

The frogs are, next to Jezerko the Lake Man and Pikes surely the most distinctive representative of the lake fauna. The most beautiful and biggest of them is a part of the Cerknica Shrovetide carnival: Quack Crowcave (Rego Vranjejamski).


Father: Hugo von Obersee

Mother: Viktoria Kožozelena (Viktoria Greenskin)

Paternal ancestors: Julia Cave di Porco, Jaka Rešetar (Julia Pig’s Cave, Jacob Riddle)

Maternal ancestors: Reza von Niederdorf, Grega von Karlowitz (Reza von Lowvillage, Greg von Karlowitza)


Butalci are one of the most famous characters of Cerknica carnival. And of course, they are, Butale are so famous, the fame is spilling over the edge! A bit more, and it will reach rivals in Tepanje.

People of Butale are the ones, who take the power away from Cerknica’s major and then turn everything upside down. They have to, their heads are so big that they are hard to keep upright.

Fran Milčinski wrote about them. According to the fact, that he spent quite some time in this neck of the woods, surely he thought of these places when he wrote and told stories of Butale. We could easily identify his birth town of Lož with Butale, but the people of that valley said, they’re not that stupid. »We are!« yelled Cerknica’s carnivalers and happily took the bid. Years showed that Cerknica is the perfect home for Butale. His rich experiences working with stupidity proved immensely useful so each year such stupid thing as the Shrovetide is, happens. And it happens, it happens at a very high level.

One day, however, all this stupidity overflowed. There was so much of it, you couldn’t fit all of it into a week of Shrovetide. At that time, the Major of Butale came to a conclusion, that the extra stupidity will have to be exported. And so it was. What a mistake! People, not used to stupidity, all of a sudden had access to it. And then they did such stupid things, that even the people of Butale thought it was stupid. Since then, the Butalci prefer to keep their stupidity for themselves. Only they know how to manage it in a way, that doesn’t cause any damage to anyone. And the one that they exported, people keep handing it to one another hoping to find someone that would know how to tame it.


Liza is a modern woman. She is firstborn of the mother Ursula, but she also distanced herself from her mother’s teachings early in her life.

Ursula was never interested in men. To be honest, they were never fighting over her anyway, with her hump on the back and a crooked nose, she was never the most desired witch. But with Liza, things were a bit different. True, she inherited her mother’s crooked nose. She also has a hump, not one, but two. But her humps are placed in just the right spot and they soon started to fire off men’s imagination. Old people were saying that the most persistent of her suitors was Tepanjec, a guy from a rival town. She couldn’t get rid of him, and even her mother Ursula urged her to settle down and get her life in order. She did, but not in a way that poor Tepanjec thought. She enchanted him into a pig and killed two birds with one stone. The first »bird« being the fact that he is now a transport device (it is well known that enchanted pigs fly even better than elephants) and the second one: independence and peace from her mother. And let’s not forget, she now always has someone to ride.


The witches are the hallmark of Cerknica’s Shrovetide celebrations and carnival. The great witch, mother Ursula, is some sort of core, from which the face of Notranjska region spreads and takes shape. Why witchcraft? That Slivnica is one of the more important hotspots and gathering spaces for witches was confirmed already by Valvasor. And he believed it. Latest discoveries show that Valvasor was one of the biggest experts on this topic of dark human activities and a credible source of credibility when looking for proof of the existence of witchcraft.

In the heart of his proving ground and belief is Slivnica with its surroundings. The amount of witchcraft involved with the carnival parade each year is the proof, that the words of Valvasor were not a lie. The witches are not in hiding anymore, their numbers are growing each year, they are getting more organised, their cultural life is in place, they take care of their offspring. They became such a natural part of our lives that they don’t surprise us anymore. Only when they get together and try to get our attention by screaming loud and hard, we remember, that they keep us company in our daily struggles and that we often wouldn’t mind grabbing some of their magical lard, lather ourselves in it and fly away from our worries for a couple of hours.

Adapted from J. V. Valvasor:

There is a hole on Slivnica that brews storms. On the top, the witches, moths and bastards have their dances and meetings. You can spot them as tiny flying lights. In general, this landscape is pretty well stocked with witches. This is why they a lot and often are burned, so sometimes more witches come to the stakes as there were witches cremated in all the history. This is why they are carefully hiding. This vermin is hard to get rid of, so under a huge pile of ashes there are still some sparks alive, that might light up this or that stake.

Witch’s kitchen

It is well known that the witches live in a hole on top of Slivnica mountain and cook all sorts of things throughout the year. This is proven by the emergence of a mysterious fog that sometimes rises from the witch’s cave. Some say it’s condensation, temperature inversion, blah blah blah… yeah, sure! These are witches, who cook all sorts of potions and concoctions, made with dormice lard. Every year, they sneak among us during the Shrovetide. They introduce their old recipes and culinary masterpieces every year when they join the carnival in Cerknica with their mobile kitchen. Dormice lard, which is a starter for witch’s lard (and has many different old recipes), can be found cooking away in their kitchen. The new recipe includes adding special Butale salt and the ashes of the witch burned the year before.

Concoctions, made in the witch’s kitchen, are popular among people of Butale, and they are happily enjoying them. They say these potions are useful for all sorts of things. If they drink it, they feel smarter. If they use it to water the Butale salt, it grows faster and is even sharper.

The Major

The Major of Butale is the main Butalec. He’s the main one because his head is the biggest, and if it weren’t big enough, he would cover it with a hat, to make it look bigger.

According to stories from Tepanjčani, the major of Butale is elected by all the municipality men sitting around the table. They put municipality louse on the table, its name is Šprinca Margola, and they would let her jump in one of the men’s beards – wherever it lands, this is the person that becomes the new major.

These elections often happen during Shrovetide times. And because Shrovetide usually happens in February or March, the men of municipality won’t shave in these months. This is why in Butale, the month of February is also called Bearduary.

You could say: »The major of Butale doesn’t even have a beard!«. True, it is not that long, but it is quite soft. And it seems like the louse likes the beards to be this way.

» This election isn’t fair, « other people say. But people of Butale would reply that their election is the same to all other elections – in the end, some are happy, some are sad and some believe the election was not legitimate.

The Police

In the old times, the people of Butale only had one policeman, and even this one wasn’t a proper policeman. He was a municipal farmhand, that put on a hat and grabbed a halberd on Sundays and holidays and became a policeman – fear of all bandits.

He caught the most horrific bandit – Cefizelj, three times, but Cefizelj escaped three times: once through the back doors, once through the front ones and the third time from the front of the doors. And when the Major of Butale realised that a single policeman can’t catch such a cunning bandit, he employed more policemen. So they would be able to wait for Cefizelj at all the doors Butale has. And so, in Butale, we have as many policemen as there is door, but only one Cefizelj. It seems like the policemen purposefully don’t want to catch him. If they would, they would lose their jobs.

The Policemen and Cefizelj

Adapted from Butalci by Fran Milčinski

In the quaint town of Butale they had a municipal farmhand, he would be herding cattle and laziness, and on Sundays and holidays, he would put on a hat, a special one, with a red hem, he would grab a halberd or a lance and turned into a policeman, the fear of all bandits. A horrific bandit named Cefizelj heard about this policeman. People said Cefizelj already suffocated seven people and three women. So, Cefizelj felt curious and so he went to see this policeman in Butale, on that Sunday when they celebrate yearly blessing and carnage, and he stepped right under the policeman’s nose.

The policeman said: »Hop, Cefizelj, I got you! We have a tailor, called executioner, he will take a measurement of your neck.« Cefizelj said nothing and went with the policeman. And so, they came to pass the baker.

»Oh,« sighted Cefizelj, »while I can still swallow; can I have just one little corn loaf, they say the best ones are baked in Butale.«

»Well!«, confirmed the policeman. »We have fatty manure, our corn flour is as if it were dressed in lard.«

And because the baker was an important part of the town, the policeman didn’t want to spare him some profit, so he left Cefizelj in the bakery and stood in front of it with a halberd or a lance and waited at the front door. He was waiting and waiting and Cefizelj didn’t come – the weasel escaped through the back door and didn’t even say goodbye. The policeman was mad – Holy Mackrel – so mad, that he spat! But, Cefizelj was gone and away and nothing helped.

A week passes, two weeks pass, the third Sunday comes and Cefizelj felt curious again to go to Butale, so he went and again, stepped right under policeman’s nose.

»Hop,« said policeman, »got you! Now you won’t run away anymore!« and grabbed him by the sleeve. Cefizelj asked for forgiveness: »I’m a foreigner,« he said, »a countryman, the other day I got lost coming from the baker, so I didn’t find you. But I do feel a bit sorry!« – And so he went with the policeman like a lamb follows it’s mother. They pass the bakery, Cefizelj remembered that he’s hungry and he asked nicely and the policeman let him into the bakery, thinking: »You are a weasel, and myself, even bigger weasel, you’re not escaping this time!« and he stood at the back door. He waited and waited, but didn’t await, because Cefizelj left at the front doors this time. The policeman was enraged, he was close to cursing.

Three weeks pass and Cefizelj is back in Butale, straight under policeman’s nose.

»Hop,« said policeman, »got you! I will show you what a policeman of Butale is, you won’t escape!« and he grabbed him by the jacket.

Cefizelj again asked forgiveness: »You weren’t in front of the door, « he said, »so I was looking for you, where you are, I was looking for you until today and until this hour.« And so he went with the policeman, not even resisting. They pass the bakery and again, Cefizelj remembered he’s hungry, he wants to go inside, buy a small corn loaf and touchingly asked for permission. The policeman said: »You little weasel, you want to escape again – at those doors, where I won’t be, right? Well, you won’t Jack! Give me the money, I will go in and buy the corn loaf and you wait for me here!«

And so, the policeman went inside and bought and came back, and when he wanted to give the bread to Cefizelj, he was gone. The policeman was so mad, he stuck a tongue at Cefizelj – and good thing Cefizelj didn’t see this, as he was a horrific thief, people said he suffocated seven people and three women.

The Firefighters

Adapted from Butalci by Fran Milčinski

 Butale are quite famous. Everything is much more excellent than in other places. They also have firefighters, who are much more excellent than others, and especially much more excellent than firefighters, bred in Tepanje. Yes, Tepanjčani! People of Tepanje – Tepanjčani and Butalci have been rivals since before time – because of excellency and who knows what else. God forbid Tepanjčani have something Butalci don’t have. When Tepanje had cholera, Butalci wouldn’t give up until they had it too, and smallpox as well. Their fame is well known even today, by the sign next to the pond in the middle of the village, where ducks and geese of the great village of Butale congregate, the famous village called a city.

One day it happened that the firefighters of Tepanje had a statuesque chief who knew what is right and got himself a beautiful firefighter’s sword with gilded handle, so not only his firefighting squad was proud of him, but the whole great Tepanje parish looked up to him.

Howdy, when Butalci found out about it they said: »We also!« and so they decided and got their chief the same sword. Not one, two, one to carry on each of his calves! Truly, they bought it and the chief wore them and looked incredible in the shine of the two swords – even the priest almost stepped away during the procession. You know, the firefighters are a great decoration not only to all the Butale processions and not only to processions but the whole – how would you call it – spiritual life and progress and everything there is in Butale. Compared to this, the firefighters of Tepanje are not more than a horse turd.

Here and there, Butale were honoured with a visit by someone important – these people are called »tailcoats« in Butale – and there was a religious or secular »tailcoat«, always and everywhere the firefighters were first: the chief with his two shiny swords and the squad in gold embellishments.

The name day of their saint was celebrated in a very big way every year – in the morning with goulash and a party in the afternoon – the type of party even the people of Tepanje couldn’t match! Not even them! Tepanjčani are ridiculous – one time they fire but ran out of the water! Butale never ran out of the water and they never will, they have a beautiful pond in the middle of the village called a city. No, water – no. Butale luckily stayed free from this type of disasters. They did, however, ran out of wine, they ran out of wine before, for example exactly at the party for the Saint Cvetoslav. But, what can you do, this is a firefighter’s party in Butale.

The wine conundrum happened once, and if God is good, never again. When the name day of Saint Cvetoslav came again they were ready for anything – that catastrophe was a big lesson for them. Since then, they are well prepared for any sort of situation, even the most excellent thirst!

Hribci – The Hillbillys

Every south has it’s north, every land has its sky and every valley has its hills.  In the hills, you can find The Hillbillys, in the valley Glen. Marjan Manček, illustrator and youth graphic novel writer (and apart from that, a man from our mountains, with a touch of hillbillies) created, among other characters, Miliboža and Dajnomir (Sweetlord and Givemeabreak). Later on, Milimir (Saintpeace) joined, and together with some animals, The Hillbillys were cerated. A family that lives in nature and together with nature. All sorts of very funny things happen to them, that are still relevant today. Every year they descend from the mountains to our valley to say hello to the visitors of the carnival. Here, they run into Dolinci (Glenans), these are just The Hillbillys that are urbanised. The Glenans stay away from hillbillyness, they don’t except it, they are estranged, important, organised and – stupid. They run into people of Butale.

The Devil and The Dormice

The great surveyor of Slovenian life, Janez Vajkard Valvasor, liked to praise himself as being the first to more precisely describe these animals and what do people of Notranjska region do with them. Doormicing is still popular, so we don’t need to explain that, and the dormice hat is definitely one of the more traditional Slovenian hats. There is a folk story connected to the dormice, saying that the devil himself is herding these little critters. Their lard is very useful as well, even the witches of Slivnica use it as one of their main ingredients for their concoctions.

About dormice and their herding

Adapted from J. V. Valvasor

 I would like to raise your attention to their similarity to rats and squirrels. They feed on beechnut and all sorts of fruit, they spend the winter underground and in the summer they come out of their holes in the light, thousands of them from each hole.

People are sure that the devil is herding them. I heard during the night strong cracking and pounding as if the drivers were cracking a whip. And then, the dormice ran out of their holes in huge numbers, and the farmers around him took off their jackets and boots and swept them away. So many dormice crawled into their jacket and boots that they were completely full. When the dormice army passed, they killed the dormice in their jackets, picked them up and left. This is happening only on Saturday’s night and other holy times. The devil doesn’t have the power to herd the little animal out of the farmer’s jacket. When you hear the cracking and the whistle – it happens often – you have to run away. The devil would walk over anyone that doesn’t run away when they hear the whistle. After the whistle, the bad spirit shows in a horrible sighting. There are many eyewitnesses. Some saw it as a half-goat, some as half-human. Some have doubts, but it is indisputable that you have to run away at the third whistle.

The dormice have a »cut« of some sorts next to their ears. This is how their shepherd marks them. Unmarked ones are only the young and those, that haven’t descended from the trees yet. The fact that these are just the devil’s cuts and not the consequences of a fight is confirmed by the lack of jaggedness around the cut. This confirms the supernatural way dormice got this cut.

About dormice hunt

With a trap of with the hand. If you blow very hard into a hollow tree the dormice start making a sound – trn, trn, trn. Then you jam a stick into the hole, move it around a couple of times and the dormice come out. Then you catch it, grab it by the neck and kill it.

When hunting with the traps, lots of them activate without catching any dormice. This is how the devil plays the hunters. A very well know activity is hunt for the chest, that is buried in the ground, the dormice resort to it until it is full. In the morning, you just collect all the dormice.

Lastly, about the diet of dormice. The tastiest are roasted, because of the quantity of the lard. Lots of people salt them and eat them throughout the winter. The skins are sold all over Europe, as many as not needed at home.

Jara gospoda (The new bourgeoisie)

Year of production:

Author: Martin Petrič

The strongest description of Slovenian small bourgeoisie was made by Kersnik in his novel Jara gospoda. In it, he tells the story of country intellectuals that spend their time in pubs and become morally and mentally numb. They don’t know love and friendship, their essence is selfish: they keep their guards up, waiting to find a mistake on others and publicly shame them. Dark, as the appearance of these people, is also their main story in Butale. However, on the biggest holiday of this town the unrest, complaining, jealousy, fights, intrigues, frame-ups, deceit, sarcasm and all the bad things settle, and Jara gospoda comes out into the public eye, joins the carnival, where you can see it in all its glory.

The Hedgehog

Adapted from Butalci by Fran Milčinski 

Many memories remained alive from the old times, maybe they are true, maybe not. Among these memories is The Hedgehog of Butale. On the day of St. Martin, they slaughtered it, sold the meat and the lard and the profit was so big that it satisfied all the church needs.

They put the hedgehog apart in a trough, then they washed it with boiling water and so the whole town had fatty soup for the whole week, all meaty days. They saved the shoulder bone for the Shrovetide days and then, all the housewives would stick it into their pots, each one had the bone for the day. This way, the barley stew had a richer flavour. This is how big the Butale hedgehog was! One year, they say, the hedgehog was so fat, that they were left with extra lard. They salted it and put it into the church bell. Above the bells, there was an arch, so they would put it there, where it would be safe from audacious thieves and hungry burglars.

However, there was too much lard and so it was too heavy. It poked through the arch above the bells and tore down the second arch and was close to tearing down the third arch and the choir loft. But, there was a spider net above the third arch – thank god the sexton didn’t clean it up! Luckily, the lard got caught in this spider net and hung there, so that the third arch and the choir loft were saved from the havoc. Sometimes, indeed, it is ok for the sexton to leave a spider net here and there.

Martin Krpan

The hero of Levstik, who also became Slovenian hero, doesn’t need a special introduction. We, the people of Cerknica, believe, that he is surely from our neck of the woods. There is Vrh (Top) and the (Za)Vrh at St. Trinity (Behind Top at St. Trinity). If this is not enough, then surely Krpan’s daily job speaks for itself: Cerknica used to be one of the main trading posts for salt. And where is trading, there are customs. And where are customs, there is supervision, and where is supervision, there must be contraband. And where is contraband, there is Martin Krpan.

The Rudd

If we could choose a fish, that best represents Butale, we would choose the rudd. Not because of her smarts, that is comparable to the smarts of species, similar to hers, but because of the story of her arrival to our lake.

Pike lived in Cerknica lake since the beginning of times. And since she was ofter boring, and she was hungry, the smart Butalci decided around half a century ago, to get her some company. They decided that the rudd would be the perfect neighbour for the pike, and not just because of her beautiful red fins. If, for example, the pike decided that her new neighbour, the rudd, is too annoying, she could simply eat it. This is how they thought. Well, the opposite happened. The rudd loved our lake very, very much. They started to breed, grow and soon, they started feeding off of pike eggs and small pikes. Without hesitation, we can say, that the pike wasn’t too happy about the new arrival but now it is what it is. »It’s not the best, but it’s ours, « say people of Butale and invite her to join the carnival every year, so the little pikes have some peace and quiet.


Fran Milčinski (1867 – 1932) – Slovene lawyer, writer and playwright. Born in Lož (20min drive from Cerknica), he created the story of Butalci that are at the base of 45 years of carnival in Cerknica. His wrote satire, giving remarks on the petty bourgeoisie and making fun of the political and cultural situations in which he grew up in.

Butale – town, in which the story of their people takes place.

Butalci – people of Butale

Butalski – adjective, derived from “Butale” meaning stupid. Word “butalski” made it into written and spoken Slovenian word and is used beyond the context of the story of Butalci.

Janez Vajkard Valvasor (Johann Weikhard Freiherr von Valvasor, 1641 – 1693) – a natural historian and polymath from Carniola, present-day Slovenia, and a fellow of the Royal Society in London. He is known as a pioneer of the study of karst studies. Together with his other writings, until the late 19th century his best-known work—the 1689 Glory of the Duchy of Carniola, published in 15 books in four volumes—was the main source for older Slovenian history, making him one of the precursors of modern Slovenian historiography.

The Glory of the Douchy of Carniola – Valvasor’s most important work remains The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola (original title: Die Ehre deß Herzogthums Crain) published in 1689  in 15 books (four volumes), totalling 3532 pages and including 528 illustrations and 24 appendices, which provides a vivid description of Carniola at the time. He also recorded the first written document on vampires when he wrote on the legend of a vampire in Istria named Jure Grando.

Slivnica – mountain above Cerknica, 1114m.

Cerknica Lake – semipermanent lake, 2km away from the town of Cerknica. Inspiration for the writing and research of Valvasor and home to many of the creatures presented in the carnival.

Šteberčan and Karlovčan – historically, two castles existed on either side of Cerknica lake – Šteberčan and Karlovčan are the two lords, who lived in them and were rivals.

Tepanje – a nonexisting rivalling town of Butale

Tepanjčani – people of Tepanje

Notranjska – Inner Carniola, a region in SW part of Slovenia and par of larger Carniola region. Includes towns of Cerknica, Postojna, Ilirska Bistrica, Pivka and Logatec.

Martin Krpan – is a fictional character created based on the Inner Carniolan oral tradition by the 19th-century Slovene writer Fran Levstik in the short story Martin Krpan from Vrh (Slovene: Martin Krpan z Vrha). Published in 1858 in the literary journal Slovenski glasnik, the popularity of the story led to it becoming a part of Slovene folklore and made its lead character a folk hero.