Tuesday, February 16, 2010


News Flash!

This past weekend I had the opportunity to observe one of Bulgaria’s more ancient traditions. The festival of Kukkeri reaches further back than the Christian religion in this region and no one knows for certain the truth behind this bizarre spectacle. Today I’ll show you what I’ve seen and tell you my conclusions upon the matter.

So the festival of Kukkeri has roots in the pagan traditions of Bulgaria. The nearby villages all gather in a single place and perform what can only be called a bizarre representation of something which they once believed took place. The participants (in groups as large as 30 to 40) have dressed themselves in costumes made from the hides of animals or in traditional Bulgarian clothing and they have choreographed… something. It could be easier if I just showed you a sample of their dances:

Yes, the entire day was like listening to the world's worst wind chime.

As you can see, the men have worn headdresses made from flowers and they’re wearing jars with something in them to make a rhythmic cacophony during their presentation. I should also mention that the children are not spared from this event either. They are also placed in costume and given disproportioned hats:

The hat’s as big as he is.

The women also are made to dance in circles, possibly to show respect for some fallen god or to represent the dancing upon the ashes of a conquered people. Should the truth be the latter, the Bulgarian people deserve much more respect. And fear:

The little girl is the representation of the people forced to dance on their own ashes.

As mentioned before, each of the different groups have a different costume but the costumes differ drastically depending on who you look at:

I want to believe that this group was aiming for Mexican Calavera.

Some of the towns have specific characters. Some have witches:

Witches are ugly everywhere

Some have people dressed as cows getting beat by people not dressed as cows:

This scene will forever haunt my dreams.

And some have small girls held up by flower-folk. I assure you that there's a little girl (or boy in a dress) in this chair:

There’s no guarantee that she’s wasn’t completely terrified during this.

As you can see, Kukkeri’s theme is that of Insanity. But this insanity must have a reason, right?

Here’s my theory: Kukkeri is a re-enactment of a prehistoric, giant interstellar battle between dozens of different alien races that all ended in a giant dance-off. The different costumes, from the men with hats the same color of their faces, to the flower-folk, to the mirror-head people, all represent different races that colluded into a single spot in the sky where they went in and out of formation banging pots the entire time. We don’t know if this truly happened but I think we could safely say it looked like this:

Minus the nerd shame.

You can see more pictures of Kukkeri on my pictures page.

This is the Peace Corps and I wish I could explain everything.


1 comment:

  1. 1) I don't believe that ANY of this is actually choreographed.
    2) Space aliens...that jingle!