Mummer game and The return of the Native

by Giang Le Thi (Vietnam)

Making a local connection Bulgaria


I have stayed in peaceful town named Razlog in Bulgaria for 2 months late 2014 for volunteer exchange program. I was young, active and welcome all the things to my life. I loved the disable people at Welfare center where I visited every week just to play chess with them. I missed the roses, the krane which volunteers made for Valentine day to give for everyone. I can not forget the big and black eyes like doll of the orphaned girl I hold in my arm, slightly clapped her back and sang her a lullaby for the dream. I could say, Razlog in my heart, was the best time ever in my life. My host was a 40 years old - guy with very warm heart who has secret room with plenty of interesting things. In that magical room, I found many of their photos in the past and the booked "The return of the native" of Thomas Hardy. I was in love with Eustacia character who kept strong desire heart of love and the fire on the top hill of edge. And I found the mummer game which connected my soul to the life of local here. It was a sunny, snowy day in new year, I was waiting to listen to the stories through a wealth of folklore program in the town. People was gathering in square center of town. New year mummer's carnival "Starchevata" has been organized for many years that welcome first day of new year with mummer's games and children going from house to house wishing people a happy new year. It was used to be the centuries-old mummer tradition in the town. The mummers from Razlog are called “Chaushi” or “Old Men”, their costumes are manufactured of goat skin, and their cone heads which are up to 2 meters high end with horse tails. The most important element of the costumes is the bell, which can weigh up to 40-50 kg. The festival has a competitive nature. Each group is assessed by a jury based on the presenting of the mummer tradition, the way the local customs of the group region are presented, as well as the clothes and the artistic abilities of the group. According to the festival rules, each Bulgarian group can be presented by not more than 50 participants, and the limitation for each foreign group is 30 participants.The festival duration depends on the number of groups but today it continues for one or two days, belong to each region. There is a lot of music and vivid costumes which showed the way to leave all the bad things for last year and have meaningful of spirits for new year.