8 February, Slovenia: Prešeren Day (Culture Day)
The Slovenian Cultural Holiday, known unofficially as Prešeren Day is a national holiday marking the anniversary of the death of the poet France Prešeren on 8 February, 1849.
Prešeren with his muse, monument at Prešernov Trg, Ljubljana. Photo: Ines Zgonc (Wikimedia Commons)
In 1944 the Slovene National Freedom Council proclaimed 8 February as a Slovene national cultural holiday. The holiday was established to honour achievements in Slovenian culture, and in 1947 the first Prešeren awards for cultural and artistic achievements were presented.
Through his contribution to national culture, Prešeren is one of the most significant figures in Slovenian history, becoming over time a kind of synonym for it.
In the past and still today, Prešeren’s work has been considered the first and leading classic of Slovene poetry, classic not only in the national or regional sense, but also according to the standards of the “developed” European cultures.
The choice of Prešeren's Zdravljica (The Toast) for the national anthem made Prešeren the symbol of this national spirit and its relationship to literary creativity.