Slovenia celebrates Prekmurje Reunification Day on Monday, a national holiday marking the day when the country’s eastern-most region was united with the rest of the nation after more than a millennium. The main ceremony was held on Sunday at the monument in Murska Sobota that was unveiled at last year’s 100th anniversary of the reunification.
Prekmurje was united with the rest of the nation after World War I and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Located east of the river Mura, Prekmurje was the only territory the Slovenian nation gained at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.
For nearly a thousand years, Prekmurje had been a part of the Kingdom of Hungary, while the remaining Slovenian lands were under Austrian rule.
When the Hapsburg family, the rulers of Austria, took over Hungary in the 16th century, Prekmurje still remained under the Hungarian part of the monarchy, separate from the rest of what is now Slovenia.
The peace conference that followed World War I decided that Prekmurje become a part of the newly established Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes on 17 August 1919.
The royal military occupied the region on 12 August and five days later, the civil authorities took over.
This year the ceremony honouring these events was held on the eve of the holiday with writer Dušan Šarotar as the keynote speaker and a cultural programme celebrating the distinct dialect of the region.
Šarotar refrained from the conventional reflections about the anniversary, about the history and situation of Prekmurje, deciding instead to talk about poetry, about stories, about the transience of everything and about immortality. He said poetry helps come closer to a type of truth that can never really be accessed or uttered.
Marjan Farič, the head of the Prekmurje association of General Maister, which organised the event, on the other hand stressed that this year also marks the 100th anniversary since the signing of the Treaty of Trianon, which set the border between the independent Hungarian state and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
With the treaty, Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory, but a part of the Slovenian population was also left in Hungary, living until this day along the Raba river.
Ceremonies were also held yesterday in Beltinci and Črenšovci. President Borut Pahor laid a wreath to the monument of Jožef Klekl Senior, an active proponent of the independence of Slovenians in Hungary, and addressed an event held in front of his house.
Prime Minister Janez Janša wrote on the occasion of the holiday that “due to people who understood the historic context of the times in the nation’s history, we are masters on our own soil today”.
“In the present moment, even if the circumstances and the challenges are different, the essence stays the same. Only united and connected in the joint desire and efforts for the prosperity of the homeland are we strong as individuals and as a nation,” Janša wrote.
President Pahor also addressed citizens at the Presidential Palace today, and the honorary guard of the Slovenian Armed Forces will be lined up in front of the building all day.
Another development marking Prekmurje Reunification Day is an emerging Prekmurje square just off the centre of the capital.
Situated along the Ljubljanica river close the Ambrož square, the location is to get a monument dedicated to the reunification. The monument, consisting of about 340 flower pot-like little sculptures, will be the work of sculptor Zoran Srdić Janežič.
Prekmurje Reunification Day is celebrated in Slovenia since 2006. Since 2009, a national ceremony is held every five years, while in the years in between local municipalities organise the celebration.