Slovenian Holiday Traditions - St. Nicholas, Santa Claus and Dedek Mraz
The Consul General of the Republic of Slovenia in the United States Alenka Jerak says that "December is the month of anticipation. Expectations of holidays, New Year and gifts. And Slovenia is among the rare countries in the world, where gifts are carried by three good December men: St. Nicholas, Santa Claus and Dedek Mraz."
Dick Russ family Slovenian Holiday Traditions and Message
Cleveland International Hall of Fame inductee Dick Russ is part Ukrainian and part Slovenian. Dick says, "As for the Slovenian traditions passed down in my family through the generations - the one which first comes to mind is putting out shoes on the eve of the Feast of St. Nicholas (6 December). The venerable saint (Sveti Miklavž ) would then leave small gifts reflecting how good or "bad" you were in the year. If you received an orange, a couple pieces of candy, and maybe a few assorted nuts, that was a big deal.
My grandsons were thrilled to receive exactly those gifts this year. It was nice to see them keep the tradition, through their father (my middle son), and his wife. It really reminded me of how my brother, sister, and I reacted when we found treats, and not a lump of coal (we had a coal furnace then!) in our shoes when we were kids. In addition, no Slovenian Christmas is complete without reverently attending Holy Mass, and at some point enjoying as much potica as possible.
Dick add, ""My wife's mother (Baba) has lived with us for more than 3 years, and thanks be to God her health is pretty much OK, and she is still very sharp. She spent several years in a Nazi forced labor camp like many of the "Ukes" here in Cleveland did - and has been giving us many details of her life under Stalin and then Hitler, and then the DP camps, and finally to the U.S. (where she was first sent to Mississippi to pick cotton on a plantation!)
The Slovenians as you know lived in those camps as well, and tragically so many were murdered by the Communists even after the war. Mass graves such as Kocevski Rog were revealed in the early 90's and I reported on many of these things back then when I was on TV. I did a fairly long piece with the only known 3 survivors of a slaughter that saw more than 10,000 Slovenians killed and dumped in a pit.
Sorry to bring a downer toward the end of the note - but the point is that the resiliency of the people like the Ukrainians and Slovenians is testament first to their Christian faith, which carried them through, along with the strength of their family life and their love of liberty. (God, family, homeland). Those are the characteristics which now allow us, who were born in the U.S., to carry on their traditions, and celebrate great feasts like Christmas, together with our families."
Slovenia holds each year, every third Friday in November, a traditional Slovenian honey breakfast. On this day, all children in Slovenian kindergartens, primary, middle and high schools get a free breakfast, consisting of apple, honey, milk, butter and bread, all from local producers or farms. The main goal of this project is to educate the general public, especially children and youth, about the importance of a morning meal/breakfast, healthy eating and the benefits of local or home-grown food, the importance of agriculture, beekeeping and bees on food production and the environment, as well as proper waste and package management.
This year's 10th anniversary of the project (November 20) was also celebrated in Cleveland, for the second time. Last year, the Consul General Mrs. Alenka Jerak successfully introduced first "honey breakfast" to the students of the Slovene language school at St. Vitus Parish. This year, due to the current circumstances, she decided to spread the idea of a healthy breakfast, importance of local, home-grown food, agriculture and the role of bees in the food chain among the American students and local community in Collinwood, once a "Slovenian" quarter of Cleveland.
Mrs Jerak, in cooperation with Councilman from Ward 8 Mr Mike Polensek and Lectorer for Slovenian studies at CSU Dr. Luka Zibelnik delivered more than 80 free healthy breakfast packages to the students of St. Jerome School, as well as students at Five Pointe Community Centre in Collinwood. They got a bread, juice, apple, baby carrots, honey, jam and butter from local food producers, as well as short description of how children in Slovenia celebrate this day, what they eat and a brief indication of the importance of this project.
Slovenian immigrant Dr. Edward Gobetz honored by President of Slovenia
The Consul General of the Republic of Slovenia in the United States Alenka Jerak bestowed the Order of Merit upon Dr. Edward Gobetz, a Slovenian immigrant to the USA, at a ceremony on Slovenska Pristava in Harpersfield, Ohio.
Consul General Jerak and Dr. Edward Gobetz photo by Phil Hrvatin
Consul General Jerak, acting on behalf of the President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor, presented the medal in recognition of Dr. Gobetz's life work, of his contribution to the recognizability of Slovenia, as well as for increasing the awareness of the achievements by Slovenians in the USA and the world.
Alenka Jerak, Consul General of the Republic of Slovenia, led an effort to cleanup and beautify the Slovenian Cultural Garden on Saturday May 30, 2020. The Cleveland Cultural Gardens are a collection of ethnic heritage gardens in Rockefeller Park in Cleveland Ohio. The Slovenian Cultural Garden was dedicated in 1932 and features busts of Bishop Baraga, Ivan Cankar and Ivan Zorman.
Consul General Alenka Jerak and others working in the Slovenian Cultural Garden
Slovenia has been at the forefront of protecting bees, which are essential to our food supply and health. Alenka Jerak, Consul General of the Republic of Slovenia, led the celebration of World Bee Day (May 20) in order to point out the importance of the bees and other pollinators, beekeeping and their contribution to sustainable development, environment, healthy food, solving problems related to the global food supply as well as to eliminate hunger.
Slovenian Consul General Alenka Jerak, truly a Busy Bee
The 8th annual Cleveland version of the most popular carnival in Slovenia - Kurentovanje - was a weeklong event featuring dinners, a dance party, fun run and more. But the highlight was the annual Kurentovanje parade followed by the festival celebration in the Slovenian National Home.
Slovenian Consul General and Bee Products and Bee Keeping
The Consul General of the Republic of Slovenia exhibited products from Slovenia related to bees and honey. Alenka Jerak, Consul General of the Republic of Slovenia, told about the importance of bees and the Slovenian products made from the bee's honey.
Alenka Jerak, Consul General of the Republic of Slovenia, and assistant
Slovenian artist Brni Lavrisha display at the Slovenian Museum and Archives
Brni Lavrisha will tell you that he is Slovenian on both sides so it is fitting that his work is being exhibited at the Slovenian Museum and Archives (SMA) in Cleveland Ohio.
Artist Brni Lavrisha
The SMA "are the privileged inheritors of a legacy, not only of precious pieces of rich, ethnic, artistic and linguistic works, but also of a compelling story of migrating and thriving in America and in our City of Cleveland."
Brni does both sculptures and paintings using materials that he finds and repurposed from a nearby creek.
As the t-shirt says "The party doesn't start until the sausage comes out!" And what a party it was.
The 16th Annual Slovenian Sausage Festival had enough sausage and polka music to satisfy everyone. More than 1,300 hungry music-lovers enjoyed eight hours of polka music and savory sausages. The event was hosted by the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame on Wednesday, September 11, 2019, at the SNPJ Farm in Kirtland, Ohio.
Fifty musicians and accordionists, including Canada's Polka King Walter Ostanek, volunteered their services at the fund-raiser for the Polka Hall of Fame.
Bill Azman; Consul General of Slovenia Alenka Jerak; Marie Azman, Polka Hall of Fame President Joe Valencic; and Trustee Denny Bucar.
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation hosted the 74th annual One World Day on August 25, 2019. Police estimates say that over 30,000 people visited the Gardens and attended One World Day. There was a lot of activity in the beautiful and historic Slovenian Cultural Garden.
Patty C and the Guys Band in the Slovenian Garden on One World Day
Click the white arrow to enjoy a taste of the Slovenian music from Patty C and the Guys band on One World Day.
The 7th annual Cleveland version of the most popular carnival in Slovenia - Kurentovanje - was a weeklong event featuring dinners, a dance party, bocce tournament and more. But the highlight was the annual Kurentovanje parade followed by the festival celebration in the Slovenian National Home.
Scaring away winter at the Cleveland Kurentovanje Parade
Nashville's polka sensation LynnMarie and Cleveland bandleader Don Wojtila were inducted into the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame at the 31st annual Polka Music Awards Show, Saturday, November 24, 2018, in the Grand Ballroom of the Downtown Cleveland Marriott Hotel. The event was the highlight of the 55th Thanksgiving Polka Weekend, Thursday - Saturday, November 22 - 24.
About 1,100 polka-lovers danced their calories away at the SNPJ Farm in Kirtland, Ohio, on Wednesday, September 12, at the 15th annual Slovenian Sausage Festival hosted by the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum. Visitors sampled sausages from vendors and voted their favorite, then took to the dance floor for eight hours of music by top polka performers.
Marie and Bill Azman, proprietors of Azman's Quality Meats with Denny Bucar of the Polka Hall of Fame
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation (CCGF) hosted the 73rd annual One World Day on September 16, 2018. A highlight is the Parade of Flags where people in costumes of their heritage carry the flags. The Slovenian Garden was well-represented in the Parade.
Slovenian American Inventors and Innovators: Their Contributions to America and the World by Edward Gobetz, a retired sociology professor from Kent State University, features three dozen individuals and three families whose have made them worthy of mention.
This hardcover, large format bibliophile edition of over 400 pages, presents over one hundred inventors and innovators, including two American Inventors of the Year, several NASA inventors and directors, three astronauts, designer of the Car of the Future exhibited at New York World Fair, Head of General Motors Coach (Bus) Division, designer of Boeing 747 which, according to Dr. Neil Armstrong "forever changed long distance travel" (and includes Air Force One, the plane of American presidents), several medical inventions, and much more
Edward Gobetz, 90, was born in Slovenia and earned his doctorate in sociology from Ohio State University. Professor Emeritus Edward Gobetz, Ph.D. writes "Slovenian American inventors and innovators have contributed to American and international progress much more than anyone would have ever dared to dream. God bless Slovenia, the beautiful Central European land that gave them to us and God bless America, the land of freedom and unequalled opportunities where their talents could be fully developed!"
Slovenian American Inventors and Innovators (406 pages, hardcover) costs $50 from Slovenian Research Center, 29227 Eddy Road, Willoughby Hills 44092.
Virtual Tour of the Slovenian Cultural Garden in Cleveland
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens are a chain of 30 or so gardens in Rockefeller Park in Cleveland each honoring a certain heritage and ethnicity. The Slovenian Cultural Garden was dedicated in 1932. This brief walking tour shows the upper level of the Slovenian Garden on East Blvd. and the busts of Bishop Baraga, Ivan Cankar and Ivan Zorman. There is more in the lower level.
Click on the white arrow to watch.
2018 Kurentovanje Parade in Cleveland
The 6th annual Cleveland version of the most popular carnival in Slovenia - Kurentovanje - was a weeklong event featuring dinners, a dance party, bocce tournament and more. But the highlight was the annual Kurentovanje parade followed by the festival celebration in the Slovenian National Home.
Scaring away winter at the Cleveland Kurentovanje Parade
Luka Zibelnik is a volunteer at the Slovenian Museum and Archives (SMA) in Cleveland. Luka is an instructor from the University of Ljubljana and is teaching Slovenian language courses at both Cleveland State University (The Center for Slovenian Studies) and Lakeland Community College.
He gave us a quick tour of a new exhibit at the SMA featuring Slovenian Women in the US. He was dressed in costume as part of the Kurentovanje celebration.
Click on the white arrow to watch the video.
Fashions from Slovenia at Cleveland multicultural party
A highlight of the 8th Annual ICC-WIN Cleveland Multicultural Holiday Celebration on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 at the Global Center for Health Innovation in Cleveland was the International Fashion Show featuring almost 100 models from about 30 countries.
Natasha Paros-Gaser (president) and David Turk (vice president) of Folklore Ensemble KRES representing Slovenia. These costumes are from the region of Gorenjska which consist of several elaborate pieces of varying fabrics, colors, and designs.
Most dances performed by Folklorna skupina Kres are done in the Folklore Ensemble KRES noša. This costume ensemble is the most intricate and distinguishable out of all regions in Slovenia.
(Click on the white arrow to watch the video)
Natasha Paros-Gaser and David Turk representing Slovenia
Natasha Paros-Gaser and David Turk representing Slovenia
Six polka performers scored their first wins at the 30th annual polka music awards, presented by the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum, including Klancnik & Friends as Band of the Year. Twenty-two awards were presented at a gala stage show on Saturday, November 25, 2017.
Bandleader Frank Stanger was inducted into the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame
Republic of Slovenia Prime Minister Miro Cerar in Cleveland
The Consul General of the Republic of Slovenia Mr. Andrej G. Rode hosted a reception in Honor of His Excellency Dr. Miro Cerar Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia on Friday, September 22, 2017 at the Slovenian National Home in Cleveland Ohio. Slovenian Ambassador to the US Stanislav Vidovic also attended.
Smoked sausages and polka music attracted a crowd of more than 1,200 to SNPJ Farm in Kirtland, Ohio, for the 14th Annual Slovenian Sausage Festival hosted by the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum on a warm and sunny Wednesday, September 13, 2017.
Polka music legends Ron Sluga and Walter Ostanek, Canada's Polka King
The 26th anniversary of the creation of the Republic of Slovenia in 1991 was celebrated in the Rotunda of Cleveland City Hall on Friday June 30, 2017. The country declared of independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Andrej Gregor Rode, Consul General of the Republic of Slovenia, hosted the event which included dignitaries, recognition of Slovenian organizations, the Slovenian Chorus Fantje Na Vasi and Slovenian food and wine.
August Pust inducts the late William (Bill) Miller into Cleveland International Hall of Fame
Former Plain Dealer ethnic reporter Bill Miller was inducted posthumously into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame in front of 500 attendees on April 18, 2017. He was represented by his wife Marianna Miller.
Marianna Miller accepting for her late husband Bill
Click on the white arrow in the image below to watch the video of August and Marianna. Make sure your speakers are on and you can make the video full screen once it begins by clicking the icon in the lower right corner.
The 5th annual Cleveland version of the most popular carnival in Slovenia - Kurentovanje - began with a parade. The units gathered at Sterle's on East 55th and marched up St Clair to the Slovenian National Home.
The shocking and sad news of the passing of beloved Mayor/Governor/Senator George Voinovich came just a day or so after his appearance at the Republic of Slovenia 25th Independence Day celebration in Cleveland City Hall. We saw Sen. Voinovich at the Slovenian Independence Day event and he looked healthy and sharp. His ad lib speech when called to the podium was classic George Voinovich - humble, smart and caring.
Senator George Voinovich on June 10,2016
Leaders in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens paid tribute to the Senator on Sunday morning - watch the video clips.
Also Senator George Voinovich was inducted into the inaugural class of the Cleveland International Hall of Fame in 2010. See his impressive bio from that event.
The 25th anniversary of the creation of the Republic of Slovenia in 1991 was celebrated in the Rotunda of Cleveland City Hall on Friday June 10, 2016.
Dignitaires included Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia to the U.S. Božo Cerar, Gorazd Zmauc, Minister of the Republic of Slovenia for Slovenians Abroad, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Slovenian Consul General Andrej Gregor Rode and Senator George Voinovich.
Mike Polensek, Mayor Frank Jackson, Minister Gorazd Žmavc, Ambassador Božo Cerar and Senator George Voinovich
The 4th annual Cleveland version of the most popular carnival in Slovenia - Kurentovanje - began with a parade. The units gathered on February 6, 2016 at Sterle's on East 55th and marched up St Clair to the Slovenian National Home.
New Slovenian Consul General and exhibit at Slovenian Museum and Archives
Slovenian Consul General Andrej Gregor Rode has only been at his new post in Cleveland for 3 weeks. He was on hand for the presentation of an exhibit at the Slovenian Museum and Archives called "Forgive Us, Forgive Us, Oh You, the Dead."
The exhibit is dedicated to Jewish soldiers in the Austro-Hungarian army who fell on the Isonzo Front (Soska Fronta) of World War I in the territory of present day Slovenia.
Luka Zibelnik, Lecturer at the Center for Slovenian Studies at Cleveland State University, was the driving force in getting the exhibition to Cleveland.
Slovenian Statehood celebration and Farewell to Consul Jure Zmauc
The celebration of 24 years of Slovenian Statehood in the Rotunda of Cleveland City Hall was bittersweet. This was the 6th and final event for Consul General Jure Zmauc who is completing his service in the US and moving back to Slovenia.
The Cleveland Slovenian Choir sang Slovenija V Svetu (Slovenian and the World)
Dick Russ inducted into Cleveland International Hall of Fame
Slovenian-American Dick Russ has been serving the people of Northeast Ohio for some 40 years, both as a professional journalist and as a leader in the community's civic life. He is currently Vice President of North Coast Community Homes, a non-profit organization which develops and maintains housing for people who have disabilities.
Dick also serves as executive producer of Eastern Christian Media, a private not-for-profit multi-media company which he co-founded in Cleveland, and as a board member of St. Peter the Rock Media, a company bringing Catholic Radio to Cleveland.
Dick Russ was inducted into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame by his longtime Channel 8 co-anchor Loree Vick.
The Slo-Ish bowling tournament started 4 years ago April 2012. Colleen Frank was on her way to a Slovenian meeting and thought there should be an event that both Irish and Slovenian groups did together and maybe grow the memberships of both groups. Bowling came to mind.
When she went to the SNPJ meeting they loved the idea. She also met with the board of the Irish Club and they loved the idea. Colleen and her Slovenian friend Gina Volpe have been organizing it ever since.
The groups involved are SNPJ Loyalites Lodge #158, Slovenian Society Home- Euclid, and the Irish American Club Eastside.
Gina Volpe, Joe Evanish, Lou Novak and Colleen Frank
2014 Polka Hall of Fame Music Awards
The Frank Stanger Orchestra repeated as Band of the Year at the 27th annual polka music awards ceremony presented by the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum on Saturday, November 29, 2014.
The musical stage show was the high point of the 51st Thanksgiving Polka Party Weekend, held at the Downtown Cleveland Marriott Hotel.
The Awards Show theme, "Down at the Friendly Tavern," paid tribute to the clubs, halls and lounges that hosted polka dances. Large-scale murals of vintage tavern photos were displayed on the ballroom walls. Forty-three musicians appeared on the main stage in the traditional jam session on Friday evening.
Joe Valencic, Polka Hall of Fame President, and Mark Habat, Vice President, with Bishop Edward Pevec after the Polka Mass
Returning for its second year on Saturday March 1st 2014, The Cleveland Kurentovanje Festival is based on the most popular carnival event in Slovenia and the central figure of the carnival, the Kurent, is believed to chase away winter and usher in spring with its supernatural powers.
The Slovenian National Home, St Clair Superior Development Corp and Sterle's Country House partnered with local businesses and institutions to bring a piece of this cultural event to St. Clair Avenue on Saturday March 1st, 2014
Consul General of Slovenia Jure Žmauc with wife Janja and daughter Nika (and Kurent)
Slovenian Sausage Festival
The 10th annual Slovenian Sausage Festival hosted by the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum was held Wednesday, Sept. 11, at the SNPJ Farm in Kirtland, Ohio. SNPJ is short for Slovenska Narodna Podporna Jednota which translates to Slovene National Benefit Society.
Besides the great Slovenian sausage (kranjska klobasa), eight polka music ensembles volunteered to perform for the Polka Hall of Fame fundraiser. Many visitors brought accordions for impromptu jam sessions.
The Rotunda of Cleveland City Hall was packed on the evening of June 21, 2013 to celebrate 22 years of Slovenian Statehood. The event featured dignitaries such as Slovenian Ambassador Roman Kirn, Slovenian Consul Jure Zmauc, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Cleveland Councilmen Joe Cimperman and Mike Polensek.
Roman Kirn, Ambassador to the Republic of Slovenia
Slovenian Consul Jure Zmauc
Slovenian music was performed by Violinist Joseph Stepec, Music Director of the Euclid Symphony Orchestra and guitarist Johnny Srsen.
Kurentovanje is a cultural event which connects ethnology, culture, arts, and people from all over Europe. It has been celebrated in Slovenia for the past 50 years. The central figure of the carnival, the Kurent, is believed to chase away winter and usher in spring with its supernatural powers.
His Excellency Roman Kirn, Ambassador to the Republic of Slovenia to the United States of America, visited Cleveland October 10-13, 2012 and took part in events covering education, business, media, government and the Slovene Diaspora. One of his stops was at the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame in Euclid.
Joe Valencic, Consul Jure Zmauc, Ambassador Roman Kirn and Tony Petkovsek
Joe Valencic, Joe Novak, Hank Guzel Jr. and Bob Kravos discussed and played Cleveland Style or Slovenian style of Polka at the Polka Hall of Fame. Why do they prefer Cleveland style? In the words of Frankie Yankovic, "Just Because."
Slovenian Ambassador Roman Kirn with Polka musicians Hank Guzel Jr., Bob Kravos and Joe Novak
Slovenian Consul Jure Zmauc spoke at the annual Diplomatic Seder. He told how he was asked why, after years of being in a union and finally becoming free, Slovenians wanted to join the EU, another union. He said that this was the first time that we wanted to join.
Slovenian Statehood Day at Cleveland City Hall On June 25, 1991 Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia. To celebrate the 21 years of Slovenian Statehood, a special event was held in the Rotunda of Cleveland City Hall with dignitaries, music and food. Consul General of the Republic of Slovenia Mr. Jure Žmauc and Mrs. Janja Žmauc hosted the event.
Councilman Mike Polensek, Consul General Jure Zmauc, Nika Zmauc, Slovenian Composer Oto Vrhovnik, Mayor Frank Jackson, Councilman Joe Cimperman and Martina Jakomin
Lojze Peterle in Cleveland Lojze Peterle is a Member of the European Parliament and the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia He spoke in Cleveland February 4, 2011
Cleveland councilman Mike Polensek and polka radio host Tony Petkovsek
Organizations and Resources for Slovenians in Cleveland
Slovenian Genealogy Society International (SGSI) The purpose of the Slovenian Genealogy Society International (SGSI), Inc. is to enrich the lives of individuals with Slovenian ancestry by helping them forge a link to the past. This Cleveland non-profit has numerous resources and a database of almost 1 million names to help you find your Slovenian roots and relatives.
Rose Marie (Macek) Jisa, president of SGSI
On August 22, 2009, The Republic of Slovenia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs relieved Consul General Dr. Zvone Žigon from his official duties in Cleveland, OH. Dr. Žigon completed his four-year diplomatic term in the city which claims the largest population of Slovenians outside of Slovenia. The Consulate General of the Republic of Slovenia in Cleveland remains the sole diplomatic office in the State of Ohio.
The Republic of Slovenia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs has appointed Mr. Jure Žmauc as the succeeding Consul General of the Republic of Slovenia in Cleveland, with consular jurisdiction over the states of Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. This is Consul General Žmauc's second post as a Consul General; he previously held the position in Klagenfurt, Austria.
In this short video, Jure Zmauc spoke about the relationship between Cleveland Ohio and the Republic of Slovenia at the first annual Kurentovanje Festival in Cleveland.
Consul General Žmauc has a degree in Construction from the Maribor School of Construction and Architecture, and a Law degree from the University of Ljubljana, School of Law. His legal career has included positions in the Maribor Prosecutor's Office and the Federal Court of Austria.
In 1994, Mr. Žmauc served as Director of the Center for International Cooperation at the University of Maribor. From 1994 to 1995, and again in 1997, Mr. Žmauc was Assistant Instructor in Civil Law and International Business Law at the University of Maribor, School of Law. In 1997, he worked as Counselor at the Republic of Slovenia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Office for Slovenes Abroad.
In 1998, he began his diplomatic career as a Consul at the Consulate General of the Republic of Slovenia in Klagenfurt, Austria. In 2001, Mr. Žmauc became Consul General there, and completed his four-year term in 2005, serving a total of seven years in Klagenfurt. Prior to his current post, Mr. Žmauc spent four years as Secretary at the Republic of Slovenia, Office for Slovenes Abroad, serving as the Director of the Sector for Cooperation with Slovenes Abroad.
In addition to his native Slovenian, Consul General Žmauc speaks English, German, Croatian and Serbian. His wife, Janja, and their two children join him in Cleveland. Otherwise, the Žmauc family resides permanently in Maribor Slovenia.
The Republic of Slovenia lies at the heart of Europe where the Alps and the Mediterranean meet the Pannonian plains and the mysterious Karst. Slovenia has a population of 2 million and its capital city is Ljubljana. The official language is Slovene, one of the South Slavonic languages.
In Slovenia, the sun shines approximately 2000 hours per year. And yes, there is plenty of snow in winter.
As a small, beautiful and picturesque country, Slovenia makes a great tourist destination. Mountains, lakes, waterfalls, forests, caves, hills, plains, rivers and the sea - you name it, you can find it all within a modest 20.273 km2 (half the size of Switzerland), as well as many natural and landscape parks.
You can ski in the morning and surrender yourself to the luxury of the Adriatic Sea in the afternoon. Slovenia has 46.6 km of sea coast - an inch per inhabitant.
The Slovene lands were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the latter's dissolution at the end of World War I. In 1918, the Slovenes joined the Serbs and Croats in forming a new multinational state, which was named Yugoslavia in 1929.
After World War II, Slovenia became a republic of the renewed Yugoslavia, which though Communist, distanced itself from Moscow's rule. Dissatisfied with the exercise of power by the majority Serbs, the Slovenes succeeded in establishing their independence in 1991 after a short 10-day war.
Historical ties to Western Europe, a strong economy, and a stable democracy have assisted in Slovenia's transformation to a modern state. Slovenia acceded to both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004.