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Bulgarian folklore

 


The national folk costumes and musical instruments are very interesting and unique. Some of the most popular costumes are the so-called “white outfits”, “black outfits”, costumes from the Thracian, the Rhodopes and Vidin regions, etc. The folk costumes worn on different holidays are extremely varied. Some of them are those of the Kukeri, Lazarki, the firedancers (nestinari), etc. Traditional Bulgarian musical instruments with original sounding are the bagpipe, the reedpipe, the rebec, the drums, the Bulgarian mandolin, dvoyanka, brumbuzuk, chimes and similar.

Bulgarian festive rituality is based on the calendar. Only men take part in the Christmas caroling (Koleduvane). Sourvakane is the most typical New Year’s custom, known all over the country. Laduvane is another New Year’s custom performed by girls and is a collective fortune telling for marriage. On the Day of Martyr Trifon Zarezan (the Pruner) on 14th February – a holiday dedicated to wine-makers, publicans, and gardeners, the first pruning of the vines is performed. The ritual is for men only.

The kukeri games are performed on Cheesefare Sunday by kukeri (or mummers masked as goat, bull, ram or some terrifying beast) - bachelors and young men dressed in goat or sheep hides with the hairs to the outside. With lots of bells hanging on their waists, the kukeri are a great attraction.

Horse racing (Koushiya) is a ritual performed on St. Todor‘s Day (the first Saturday of the Lent). Lazaruvane (a ritual dedicated to the fields, pastures, forests and young girls: Lazarki) is a springtime girls’ custom. The Lazarki make a round of the houses starting from noon on the Saturday of Lazarus until noon on Palm Sunday (Vrabnitsa or Williow Day / Flowers’ Day). Granny Martha (1st March) is a holiday of the beginning of spring. They make martenitsa-s (twined tasselled red and white woollen or cotton thread) and people decorate themselves with them for health.

St. George’s Day is celebrated on 6th May in veneration of St. George - patron of shepherds and herds. On that day houses and farming buildings are decorated with greenery, wreaths are made, “horo”-chain dances are played, and swings are swayed. Tables are laid “on green” (in the open) and a St. George’s Day kourban (boiled lamb from the first-born male lamb), St. George’s Day bread and other ritual dishes are offered.
 
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