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:
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:
As mentioned before, each of the different groups have a different costume but the costumes differ drastically depending on who you look at:
Some of the towns have specific characters. Some have witches:
Some have people dressed as cows getting beat by people not dressed as cows:
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:
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:
You can see more pictures of Kukkeri on my pictures page.
This is the Peace Corps and I wish I could explain everything.