"Zdravljica" - toast to a cosmopolitan nation anthem quality in the Slovenian context

Christopher Kelen*, Aleksandar Pavković

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


As with many states, in the case of Slovenia two songs principally contend for the position of national anthem. In this case an apparent ideological gulf masks perhaps a more essential temperamental divide: the bellicose army song versus the happy drinking "all together... " number. Vacillation between "Zdravljica" ("A Toast") and "Naprej zastava slave," ("Forward, Flag of Glory") might be taken as reflecting the ambivalence with regard to potentially hostile others one reads attributed to Jesus Christ in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke: who's not with me is against me/who's not against me is with me. The 1989 adoption of "Zdravljica" (lyrics courtesy of Slovenia's national poet France Prešeren) is strongly suggestive of an outward looking state, one hoping for a place in a cosmopolitan Europe. "Naprej zastava slave" has remained the anthem of the Slovenian army and so is far from being discarded for the purpose of asserting Slovenian national aspirations. Perhaps retaining it in this minor role has been necessary because "Zdravljica" is a song which - at least as it is presently sung - de-emphasises national aspiration to a degree unusual for the anthem genre. In a crossroads of Europe dominated historically by the national (or imperial) aspirations of larger and more powerful political entities, "Zdravljica" is a song which tests the limits of what an anthem can be by holding out a hope of rising above the national.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)828-847
Number of pages20
JournalNationalities Papers
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Balkans
  • Slovenia
  • anthem
  • identity
  • nationalism


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