Spring Traditions in Bulgaria

 

                               Kukeri


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Links to other Spring Rituals:

   March 1

   April 1

   Lazar's Day

   (Lazarovden)

   Kukeri

   Kukeri Tradition

   Butterfly

   Flowers Day

   (Tzvetnitza)

   

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The Tradition

 
On several occasions during the year, special ritual games called Kukeri, take place in Bulgaria. These games are performed by men only, dressed in colourful hand-made costumes. The Kukeri games aim to scare away the evil spirits with their magic dances, so that the crops can grow well and the harvest is rich.
     The masked men jump, jingle with the bells, and make jokes. They roll on the ground to gain power from it
and become healthy. The bells are used in rituals of different cultures as protection from bad magic.
    The ritual
games end with a big horo /a circle dance/ in the centre of the village. Then the food and the money which the Kukeri gathered during the carnival  y make a feast with.
 
The Kukerís masks are decorated with colorful threads, ribbons, laces and pieces of mirrors and usually represent animals like rams, goats, bulls, or even chicken.  Some of the masks have two faces. On one side a good-humored face with a snub nose, and on the other an ominous face with a hooked nose, symbolizing the coexistence of Good and Bad.
 
 
The decoration colours are very important: Red symbolizes fertility, sun fire;
Black represents Mother Earth, White is the symbol of water and light.
The
Kukers usually wear furry coats. Each has a leather belt around the waist with big and loud bells hanging from it. Some carry wooden swords, brooms, or other fearful instruments in their hands.

 

 

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