Bulgarian Festivals and Holidays

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Festivals, holidays, Celebrations

Kukeri (кукери) is a traditional festival or ritual in January to scare away evil spirits. Men in costumes perform the ritual. The costumes cover most of the body and include decorated wooden masks of animals and large bells attached to the belt. The kukeri walk and dance through the village to scare evil spirits away with the costumes and the sound of the bells. It is also to provide a good harvest, health, and happiness to the village during the year.

March 1st marks the Bulgarian holiday called Baba Marta. “Baba Marta” means Grandmother March in Bulgarian. This holiday helps to usher out winter and welcome spring with the giving of martenitsi, a white or red thread doll or amulet.  Many people tie them on their wrists or to their bags. If you’re in Bulgaria, you’ll see trees “wearing” the martenitsi that they have been given by passersby.

24 May is known as the “Bulgarian Education and Culture, and Slavonic Literature Day”. It is national holiday celebrating Bulgarian culture, literature and the alphabet. Saints Cyril and Methodius are the most celebrated saints in the Bulgarian Orthodox church, and icons of the two brothers can be found in every church.  They are the “Apostles of the Slavs”. They invented the Cyrillic alphabet that is used by the Bulgarians and also by the Russians.

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