Monday, 23 February 2009

Chasing Winter Away

Tomorrow will be their day - Shrove Tuesday. But they have been around for some time now. Their job is to chase winter away, so that spring can come into the land. And this is how they arrived to our village for us to see and hear them:

They danced and rang their cowbells. They made such noise that cold and bad weather are bound to go.

Traditionally, only an unwed man could become a Kurent (or Korant) as the mask is called. They danced and danced and received handkerchiefs from pretty girls. They stuck them behind their belts. And danced on. It takes a lot of energy to persist for days under that heavy sheep skin (seven of them, really), but they have to do their job properly.

After the dance they put their masks on display, so we could have a closer look:
Those are their red tongues, sticking out. Aren't they scary? Traditionally, they never took their masks off, nowadays it's different.

I hope the spring that's coming will be good. We have the Kurents' good wishes and maybe I'll be good, too. Good enough to stop making good resolutions every day.


  1. What a wonderful set of pictures! I wonder how far back these traditions go - pre-Christian, maybe? In my town, our "folk customs" are recurring events that started only recently. Having a tradition that's been around for 20 years is a big deal, and often these are customs that are quite commercial. (Not always - we have a lovely pageant/parade sponsored by a theater group that happens around May Day.) It seems that people need to mark the seasons' changes communally, and find ways of connecting beyond our little boring singular lives.

  2. Yes, these costumes origin from paganism. We have several. The ones in the photos are from about 200 km away, so they visited us for the people to see them.
    In carnivals we have traditional masks as well as modern ones, reflecting what is going on at the moment and what irritates us or makes us laugh.

  3. By the way, did you click the photos to see the masks better?