Miner's initiation ritual declared intangible cultural heritage

Velenje, 14 May - The Ministry of Culture has decided to include the Jump over the Leather Apron, a traditional initiation ritual for beginner miners in the mining town of Velenje (N), in intangible cultural heritage of Slovenia.

The traditional Jump over the Leather Apron initiation ritual for beginner miners held on the national Miners' Day.
Photo: Lili Pušnik/STA
File photo

The ministry's decision has been issued under the law of preservation of cultural heritage to include the event, organised annually by the Velenje coal mine, into the Register of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Novice miners jump over a leather apron as this is an accessory that used to be worn by miners to protect themselves from damp. Jumping over the apron replaced jumping over mine shafts as they became too wide.

This initiation event was first held in 1961, when the first generation of students finished their studies at the local mining school. It is still organised in cooperation with the school that today also offers a tertiary mining and geotechnical engineering programme.

The event was organised annually until 2019, with last year's edition cancelled due to the epidemic. The 60th Jump over the Leather Apron has been moved to this year, when it is expected to be held, depending on epidemic-related measures.

It is part of the national Miners' Day that takes place on 3 July to mark the hunger strike of miners in the Zasavje region in 1934. It is accompanied by a parade of uniformed miners, and the whole town of Velenje is decorated in traditional miners' black and green colours.

This traditional form of initiation of beginner miners started in the 16th century in the Slovakian mining region of Banská Štiavnica.

© STA, 2021