Tree Trunk Pulling



Until the middle of the 20th century the Slovenes in Hungary used to marry mostly during the carnival period.


If no villagers get married between Christmas and Ash Wednesday, the marriageable youths of the village are being “punished”: They have to organise the so-called “Tree Trunk Pulling” on Carnival Sunday. Pulling a fir tree trunk, which has been cut in a forest, symbolises a joke marriage. The participants of the event pull the tree trunk through the village impishly, masqueraded as bride’s male attendant, wedding guests and flower children. A young woman dressed up as a bride and a young boy dressed up as a groom sit on this very tree trunk. After the “marriage” has ended, the tree trunk is auctioned. The auction proceeds are used for events of amusement (proms) and for covering expenses. The tree trunk mainly is a fertility symbol. This custom was adopted by both the Slovenes and the Hungarians of Vas County from German-speaking Austrians. The tradition of tree trunk pulling dates back to the year 1904. At that time, Slovenes from Andovci / Orfalu followed this custom for the first time. And so did Slovenska Ves / Rábatótfalu in 1909.

Photos: weekly journal „Porabje“


This custom is either called “the fir tree marriage” (baurovo, gostüvanje) or “tree trunk pulling” (plojek vlejčti, baur vlejčti, baur vlečenje, plojek vlečenje)


This joke marriage used to be organised mostly on Carnival Tuesday or sometimes even already on the Monday before. However, since 1968 this custom is followed always on Carnival Sunday. The whole village participates in this marriage parody. Even the descendants of the villagers, relatives from the cities and latterly also Slovenes from the Raba Region living abroad travel to their homeland in order to attend this event.


The masked figures, which appear in this custom, can be divided into two main groups: The first group plays the crucial role in the event (the “bride” and the “groom” as well as the “best man”, the “devil”, etc.). In the second group one can find the supporting characters, which accompany the procession with colour (the “barber”, the “wedding guests”, the “gipsy”, etc.)


The script of the tree trunk pulling that took place in Števanovci and Andovci in the year 1999 read as follows:


      1) The meeting

      2) Breaking-up in order to look for the groom, asking for her parents’ approval and saying

          goodbye to the family of the bride

      3) The wedding guests leave for the forest

      4) The ceremonial cutting of the tree

      5) The return of the wedding guests pulling the “tree trunk of dishonour” (on the way

           much jugglery and fun)  

      6) The first announcement (the text shall be shouted out loud)

      7) The devil climbs the chimney, which has to be cleaned by the sweep

      8) The second announcement (the text shall be shouted out loud)

      9) The devil captures the bride (the groom has to look for her and find her)

      10) The third announcement on the place of espousal

      11) The espousal ceremony

      12) Auctioning the tree trunk

      13) The wedding feast

      14) The wedding celebration

      15) The bride’s dance

      16) Dancing until the break of dawn


* Director: Károly Krajczár


In the Slovene village of Hungary this event is celebrated bilingually since 1968 (assumedly long before then). In Slovenska Ves / Rábatótfalu and in Sakalovci / Szakonyfalu the text of the ritual is recited in Slovene at first and then in Hungarian. However, in Števanovci / Apátistvánfalva there are also texts, which are composed in Slovene or in Hungarian only. Since most visitors master both languages this circumstance is not considered disturbing. The village choirs mostly play Slovene polkas, waltzes and marches. Furthermore, the music accompanying the bride’s dance is Slovene as well. Very often you can hear Hungarian popular songs at the celebration as well.

Photos: weekly journal „Porabje“


Thanks to the historic political changes in 1990 (border zone lifting, the opening of new border crossings) this festive can appear in a new light today. Since also border crossings, which are otherwise closed are opened on this very day temporarily (for example in Andovci / Orfalu). As a consequence, also numerous guests from the neighbouring villages in the Mura Region in Slovenia, who speak the same Slovene dialect as the Slovenes from the Raba Region and also belong to the same cultural group, travel to the villages in the Raba Region by bus or by car.



Translated from German into English: Joël Gerber

The German text is based on: Mukics Mária, „A Magyarországi Szlovének; Press Publica, (2003)