Monday, February 28, 2011

Kukeri Festival

At the end of January, we braved the chilliness of the Bulgarian winter and headed 20 miles SW to Pernik for the annual Kukeri Festival. It was really interesting!

In short, (try to say the rest in one breath!) Kukeri Festivals date back to the ancient Thracians and are wild celebrations where young men dressed in animal skins with bells tied around their waists and wearing wooden masks with tall, feathery headdresses dance around to scare away evil spirits and promote health, fertility, etc. for the coming year. Phew! You may now breathe. That's a very quick summation. I found a really interesting explanation of it all at Cultural Realms (click it to go there) -- definitely worth a peek if your curiosity's been tickled by this at all.
This get-up has the bonus of always providing the wearer with a soft place to sit.
Look at these fellas! I liked them. A bear and some sort of weird black horned animal... And Bran. I like him a LOT. There was a Grim Reaper guy, too, skulking somewhat spookily through the crowd, but hey, guess he fits in with the whole circle of life thing.
Some of the headresses had more than feathers on them. Some had (mostly) whole animals. This is a bird, obviously, and there were foxes, too. Hmmm...wait... I can't tell if this is a real bird, or a bird made out of random feathers and stuff. There were definitely real birds on a couple of the headdresses... but I'm not sure about this one. But you get the picture. From this picture, haha...ha.
My favorite was this poor goat... looks like he's just getting a boost up on his buddy's shoulders, but nope. That guy's carting a goat carcass around on his head.
We ate sausages and cole slaw-esque stuff. Yummm. Not bratwursts, but still, yum... We shared a table with two robust Bulgarian fellows, and after they ditched a lady wearing a bright red wig took their place. The wall behind us says, "Bulgaria!" in.... yep, Bulgarian.
Maeve talking to this mask on display: "Come on, big mouse thing... get up! You're okay! ...aren't you? AREN'T you??"
See, there's a little fox on the top of this display mask. There was a huge one dangling from one of the headdresses. A beautiful gray fox. Sigh. At that particular moment, though, the cotton candy was much more interesting than a mask that normally fascinates Bran any time we're in the museum gift shop downtown. There he's always clambering for a closer look, and would LOVE to get as close as he is in the above pic. Ah, well. The power of sugar.
And that's a lot of sugar. We could've hidden Maeve in one of those suckers. Obviously we needed two of them... I mean, there's no way one would have been enough...yeah. After about six bites each Bran and Nuala were feeling woozy and Z & I were forced to take over. Hey, you do what you gotta do for your kids. Sometimes it's tough.


Bonnie said...

Dude. I need one of those cotton candy thingies.

Tara Milligan said...

Fun! Mom and I just got done watching a movie about a pagan festival (dancing at Lughnasa), so we laughed when we pulled up your blog to see this post! Those headdresses are crazy, poor little fox on top of one :(.

Love, Tara and Mom

Sara said...

Looks like so much fun! And cold. Very cold.

Rob and Erin Smith said...

I totally thought I commented on this! I love Maeve's hat! And the cotton candy looks so HUGE and yummy! Wow, what an interesting celebration. Some Seriously unique stuff, WOW! Look at all this awesome stuff you guys get to experience. Bran looks so warm in his fur-lined hood...Nuala too! They are all so big and Cute! Although, the Maeve pictures are wanting. There are not enough of them. and only one face shot, but no eye contact...hmmm....yes...more please :0) Love you guys!

Sutherlands said...

WOW! I need some of that cotton candy! Your kids are so BIG! and adorable! I enjoyed catching up on your posts!

the sutton clan said...

wow! what a neat festival! I can't wait to live abroad again and get to do cool stuff like this! and those are the biggest things of cotton candy I have EVER seen! I felt woozy just looking at them!

Grandma said...

I can't see the fetrtility in wearing a goat on your head. YUCK!!!! Awesome costumes and masks and I could sure share on of those Humongous cotton candy things!!