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KUKERI

The Kukerski Igri [Kukeri Masked Dancers Games] are an extremely spectacular element of the Bulgarian holiday rites and rituals. Connected to the spring holiday cycle, they are a symbol of the new revival of the forces of Nature. The games are performed by men only during Sirnitsa (the week between the second Sunday before Lent and Shrove Sunday, which are respectively 8 and 7 weeks before Easter) and on Kukerovden [the Day of the Kukeri Masked Dancers] (the Monday following Shrove Sunday). The Kukeri are companionship of masked bachelors and young men and their games are performed for fertility, prosperity and good health. They are clothed in strange trousers, wrapped with goat or sheep skins with the hair outwards, decorated with a multitude of tassels, fringes, pieces of glass and beads. They wear masks (of billy-goats, rams, bulls or some horrible animals), developing into wondrous hats, and around their waists they have various numbers of bells and rattles hung, whose deafening rattling accompanies the procession of koukeri masked dancers.

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