Bulgarian folk Kookari ritual

This piece folklore was gathered at the San Fransisco trauma recovery center. I met with a group of social workers and over the course of one hour we all got came together in a meeting room and in one big group we decided to go around the table and each discuss folklore from their lives. At the beginning of the discussion I gave a brief description about what folklore could be. After that everyone shared pieces of folklore from their lives.

“One tradition that we have in Bulgaria, and in my village we do it around Easter but in other places that do it for New Years. It’s a very interesting kind of tradition. People dress up in goat skin and they put those huge bells on them and you like have to make the noise with the bells  and they go all over the village and it is considered to chase the evil spirits and cleans the village and get you ready for good things. The people dressed in the goat skin they are called Kookari and it is considered a huge honor to have them come by your house and kind of cleanse your house.”

Background information about the performance from the informant: “I grew up with that tradition. In the village I was raised in it happens for Easter every year. Mostly I remember that as a child I was extremely scared of them because they really look scary. They have like scary masks and I understand now that the idea is to scare bad evil kind of spirits but as a child I was mortified and I refused to leave the house on that day.”

Final thoughts: There are a lot of rituals over the world that have to do with scaring away spirits.  The technique of dressing up and attempting to be as scary as possible is something that people like doing quite a lot even here in America we have Halloween. Another common trope that is present in this tradition is the idea of using noise to help scare the spirits.