KARAKACHANI / SARAKATSANI
In Bulgaria they are known as Karakachani, however in neighbouring Greece they are known as Sarakatsani. They themselves claim that they are Vlachs, though distinct from the Romanians, and with a strong feeling of identity. As there is no written proof of their ancestry, there are many theories about it. In Bulgaria there is a popular hypothesis that the Karakachani are descended from ancient Thracians, who came under Hellenistic influence. In Greece their Hellenistic ancestry is hardly doubted by anyone. A different theory states that they are descended from nomads of antiquity, who inhabited the Greek mountains, others say that the Karakachani were originally non-nomadic Greeks, who were forced to leave their lands around the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. They themselves practiced a nomadic way of life and bred sheep. The name Karakachani was taken from Turkish, where it means "black refugees".
The Karakachani's economic and social life before they settled down was organized around the Karakachan camp. They lead a very nature-friendly way of life, which defines their social relations, lifestyle, food, clothing, etc. All this has seriously affected their culture and traditions. Otherwise their festivals are very similar to the Bulgarian ones.