Customs - Portorož & Piran


Our ancestors, salt workers, farmers and fishermen, handed down to us a rich cultural heritage. The traditional festival of salt – the Saltpan Feast – is held every last weekend in April or on the name day of St. George, the patron saint of Piran. On this day, a new season of salt harvesting begins. Traditionally, the locals from Piran moved to the salt pans, every year for four months. After the festivities, they loaded up their furniture, kitchenware, icons, flour, oil, garlic and a cat, and sailed off to the salt pans.

In memory of this custom, every year on the last Sunday in April, we stage the journey of a salt worker’s family from Piran to the salt pans. On this day, the narrow streets of Piran are decorated with garlands made of greenery, carefully woven together by the members of the Anbot Society. The atmosphere in our town is as vivid as it was many years ago.

A procession with pilgrims and ships

For the holiday of the Assumption of Mary on the 15 of August, every second year we organise a unique procession in Slovenia.

On the eve of the holiday, we solemnly transfer the statue of Marija of Strunjan from the cathedral in Piran to the main pier, from which a procession of boats sails off to Strunjan. From the pier, we carry the statue in a procession to the church of Marijino Prikazanje in Strunjan, where a solemn mass is held.

After the mass, when night falls, we walk in a procession to the Cross on the cliff above Moon Bay, where we pray for fishermen and sailors. In the past, Strunjan was visited by pilgrims from all of Istria because of testimonies that in 1512, on the eve of the Assumption of Mary the Virgin, Mary appeared. Even today, the procession is very popular.

Dancing at the “šagra”

Even to this day, the custom of “šagra”, i.e. parties with dancing, is still preserved in the villages of the Piran countryside. In summertime, they are especially held quite often and you have many chances to visit them and to taste homemade food.

In the Istrian dialect, “šagra” means holiday. In each village, the biggest party is held on the name day of the patron saint of that village. In the past, there used to be a procession after the holy mass (and still are in some Piran villages). Church ceremonies were followed by a festive lunch; later on in the afternoon and evening, they had dances and a party outdoors.

Nowadays, popular bands play at these dances; but in the past, it was mainly folk musicians who entertained.

A game from the old times

In Piran, Sečovlje and Strunjan, we annually organise tournaments for playing an old Istrian game called “pandolu”, which is a part of the cultural heritage.

Elsewhere in Slovenian Istria, “pandolu” was played during parties (i.e. “šagra”), and in the vicinity of Piran, it was played on the racetrack in Lucija.

The baptism of future seamen

Our places have always been tightly connected to maritime navigation. Ever since 1947, when the Slovenian Maritime Commerce Academy was established in Piran, the maritime baptism is held in the beginning of September.

Students of the maritime secondary school, in an initiation ritual, swear to Neptune, the god of the sea. Novices, clad in rough sackcloth, must carry a statue of the sea god and a heavy ship rope in a procession from the maritime school to Piran. They are supervised by students from the previous year, dressed like pirates. When they come to the end of the procession, they listen to Neptune's speech and swear to him on their knees. The baptism is concluded with the throwing of the first-year students into the sea.

Title Address Telephone
Tourist society Škurša Padna 11, SI-6333 Sečovlje T: +386 (0)5 672 51 40
Tourist society Taperin Sečovlje Sečovlje 24, SI-6333 Sečovlje T: +386 (0)41 607 802
Tourist society Fiesa Fiesa 68, SI-6330 Piran T: +386 (0)31 248 404
Tourist society Solinar Strunjan Strunjan 28, SI-3320 Portorož T: +386 (0)5 678 20 00
Folklore society Val Piran Trg 1. Maja 2, SI-6330 Piran T: +386 (0)5 673 45 73
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