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Kukeri Day in Ivaylovgrad

In March 16th, the snow did not stop the kukeri (costumed mummers) of the Ivaylovgrad neighborhood Ladzha  to chase away the evil spirits with scary masks and ringing of bells.

At the end of winter and begin of spring Ivaylovgrad celebrates Kukeri Day, the traditional Bulgarian ritual to scare away evil spirits. Costumed men perform a dance and walk through the village, to chase away the bad spirits and provide a good harvest, health and happiness for the inhabitants. The costumes cover most of the body and include decorated wooden masks of animals (sometimes double-faced) and large bells attached to the belt.

After going around the village they gather at the square to dance wildly and amuse the people. The ritual varies by region but its essence remains largely the same.

This ritual has ancient Thracian origins.

Kukeri Day has been celebrated in Ivaylovgrad since 1914, when the ancestors of the inhabinatnts of Ladzha came here from the Bulgarian villages in Anatolia: Kodzhabunar and Mandar. The Kukeri team of Ivaylovgrad neighbourhood Ladzha is one of the best in the country. Ladzha group is the only one active group in Haskovo region. In January, the group won a silver medal in the category "Attractiveness of a group from the Eastern Bulgaria" at the 22nd International Festival of the Masquerade Games "Surva" - Pernik 2013, where they traditionally take part in.

 

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