In January the kukeri come out in Bulgaria to banish evil

Photo: BGNES

With the start of the new year comes the time when people in Bulgaria welcome guests to their homes most often. It is said that guests can come uninvited on a name-day, and January is the month of the year that is just packed with name days. It is also the month connected with kukeri (mummer) games.

In towns and villages people throw their homes open to the dancing kukeri. It is said that with their fearsome masks, they banish the forces of evil lurking all around us, humans.

In Zhabokrut village near Kyustendil, for example, there are two bands of kukeri who start making the rounds of the homes in the village as early as 8 AM on 1 January, and they are welcome guests in every home. The bands consist of men of different age, among them university and school students, men of various professions, there are even policemen. At the very start of the year they go to all the houses dressed in traditional costumes made of animal skins and hides. It is a tradition to give them meat, bread, banitsa and wine, as well as small coins.

Photos: archive

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