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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Bulgaria Series at BulgarianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Bulgarian holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 23 - Mummers' Day.
“Mummers’ Day,” or Kukerov den, which literally means “Kukeri Day” is a feast associated with the Resurrection of Christ, so its date is different every year. It’s always celebrated on the Monday after “Cheesefare Day” or Sirni Zagovezni.
In this lesson, you will learn more about Mummers’ Day and who the kukeri are.
Now, before we get into more detail, I've got a question for you-
Do you know how many and which characters usually appear in the kukeri dances?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep listening!
On Mummers’ Day, the kukeri dances are held. These are thought to have originated from the Dionysus feasts. In the different regions of Bulgaria the kukeri are called different names. Some of these names include cuckoos, monks, goblins, an animal resembling a camel or horse, old men, mug (face), guards, babugeri, dervishes, jamalari and others.
It is thought that the kukeri custom has a Thracian origin. The dances have been performed since antiquity or ot drevnostta, but were forbidden during World War II. They were restored or vazstanoveni after the 1950s. The manner of carrying out the dances, the roles of the “participants,” or uchastnitsite, and most of all the time they are performed vary by region. Some of the most popular dances are held in the town of Pernik, situated in South-Western Bulgaria.
The kukeri dances are held with the “purpose,” or tsel of scaring away the evil spirits through frightful masks and magical dances. They are also held to express a “wish,” or in Bulgarian pozhelanie, for rich crops, health and prosperity. The dancers energetically and loudly jangle the big bells that are hung on them.
The kukeri costumes are of genuine interest to photography lovers. The masks are multi-colored, resembling “animals,” or napodobyavashti zhivotni, and are ornamented with tassels. Their colors are “vivid,” or yarki, and the dominant color is red as a symbol of fecundity.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Do you know how many and which characters usually appear in the kukeri dances?
Besides the kuker, which is a scary and grotesque mask often resembling some kind of animal, at least several other characters appear with different roles. Some of them are the granny, the king or tsarya, the priest, the bodyguard, the gypsy or tsiganina, the barber, the bride with her bridegroom, and various lads. The barber even shaves the men he meets during the procession.
How was this lesson? Did you learn something interesting?
Would you like to participate in kukeri dances?
Leave a comment letting us know at BulgarianPod101.com
and we'll see you in the next lesson!

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Would you like to participate in kukeri dances?