Žumberak is a (low) mountain range that boarders Croatia and Slovenia. The highest peak (1181 m) is at the border between the two countries. The peak, much like the range, has two names – Croatian (Sveta Gera) and Slovenian (Trdinov vrh).

Slovenian name of the mountain range is Gorjanci. You will come across both names (i.e. Žumberak and Gorjaci), so you know it’s the same thing.

Interaction between Croatia and Slovenia is strong on Žumberak. It declined following the dissolution of Yugoslavia (Croatia and Slovenia became two independent countries meaning border control began). There are even cases of someone’s house being in Croatia while his field is in Slovenia.
More problems arose in 2004 when Slovenia became an EU member because Slovenian border became the border of the European Union.
Nevertheless, there are a lot of daily migrations.
Things should go for the better because Croatia became an EU member on 1st July, meaning the border between Croatia and Slovenia is a formality again.

Local dialects on both sides of the border are very alike, if not the same.

Croatian part of Žumberak, along with the neighbouring Samobor hills, forms a nature park (Žumberak – Samoborsko gorje).

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There are remains of several settlements throughout history in the park.

Budinjak was a prehistoric settlement. The only remain of Budnjak is a graveyard in the form of tumuli (burial mounds). The park has a 4 km long path of tumuli.

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A reconstruction plan of the biggest tumulus on Žumberak (click on the image to enlarge it).

Greek Catholics

When people say someone’s a “Catholic”, they usually mean Roman Catholic. Indeed, more than 80 % of Catholics are Roman Catholic, but there are 28 Catholic Churches in the world. The thing they all have in common – other than Christianity, of course –  is that they accept the authority of the pope (the exception are Old Catholics who honour the pope, but do not accept him being infallible – I’m not even sure whether they’re regarded as a Catholic Church by the Vatican).

Greek Catholic Church is the second “largest” Catholic Church.

They differ from the Roman Catholic in the following (notable) ways:
Their priests are allowed to marry and have families;
Priests can wear beards (though I haven’t seen a Greek Catholic priest with a beard such as Orthodox priests have);
They often use Old Church Slavonic in their services and they prefer the language over Latin.

In short, they’re a blend of Roman Catholics and Orthodox.

Anyway, despite Žumberak being in the middle of a Roman Catholic sphere (both Slovenia and Croatia are predominantly Roman Catholic), Žumberak is an island of Greek Catholics. There are still a lot of Roman Catholics in the region. Croatian cardinals Alojzije Stepinac and Franjo Kuharić came from Žumberak.
So, how did Greek Catholics end up on Žumberak anyway?
In the 16th century the Military Frontier was established along the south border of the Habsburg Empire to prevent Turks from conquering Habsburg lands. Žumberak was part of the Frontier. To protect the Frontier, Habsburgs offered people land in exchange for immediate military action to defend the Frontier, thus the Empire, from the Turks. Many people heeded the call, including Greek Catholics, who came to Žumberak.
Along with, their religion, they kept their štokavian dialect, which is very different to the local kajkavian dialect(s). When the priest, who we talked with, spoke, I just thought he reverted to standard Croatian (also štokavian) until he told us that that’s how they speak.
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A Greek Catholic church on Žumberak (kinda like an ordinary Roman Catholic church from the outside)

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Inside of the church
Note a few things:
The altar is hidden;
The book on the table is set so the priest is turned back from the adherents while reading the book (yes, very likely the Bible);
Croatian national symbols (the chequy and red-white blue tricolour) are present, probably ’cause Greek Catholics of Žumberak want to emphasize they’re Croatian to their Roman Catholic brethren [even the caron of Ž*(umberak) is a heart shaped red and white chequy).
*Ž has more significance. As I said, the language Greek Catholics prefer is Old Church Slavonic. That is a dead language (i.e. no native speakers), like Latin. The language used Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabets, but not Latin. There are no living languages that still use Glagolitic alphabet, but many, especially Slavic lingoes (most notable Russian, still use Cyrillic. Croatian (and Slovenian* for that matter) can, also, be written in (Serbian) Cyrillic. Yet stylistic Ž is written in Latin (it’s Cyrillic equivalent is Ж) in a Greek Catholic church. Like every other** diacritic in Serbocroatian languages (and Slovenian), Ž was introduced into the alphabet by a Croatian linguist and it spread from Croatian to other Serbocroatian lingoes (and Slovenian).
*Both lingoes are Slavic [and the distinction of the northern Croatian dialect(s) and Slovenian is often purely based on ethnicity]
**Đ (stroked D, not Eth) is the exception being introduced later by a Serbian linguist

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Glagolitic text inside the church (no, I can’t read it)

Posted on July 23rd, 2013 at 20:17 GMT
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One thought on “Žumberak

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