Gaelic Storm ("Titanic") is touring in the late Confederacy, where it will be performing at Thursday at
With the sun riding ever higher in the sky here in
MUMMERS, KUKERI AND WRENBOYS
In medieval times, the winter struggle between dark and light was represented in plays. In
Below, Sligo mummers portray Brian Boru and Finn Mc Cumhail in mock combat. (Joe McGowan photo)
Similar customs exist in other European countries, and our group has been invited to attend the Surva International Festival of the Masquerade Games held in
‘Surva’, as it is known, is a two-day parade of masquerade groups from
In ancient times, the old Thracians held the Kukeri Ritual Games in honor of the God Dionysus ¾ especially known as a god of wine and ecstasy. Even today these games are also known as the Dionysus’ games. Among today’s dancers are many characters, including Dionysus and his satyrs as well as others from deep history such as the tsar, harachari, plyuvkachi, startzi, and pesyatzi. The masked participants are called kukeri, kukove, survakari, startsi, babugeri, dzhamailari, kamilari, etc.
During this international festival, Bulgarian and other folk groups march in procession through Pernik, displaying exuberant costumes and fantastic masks. They are performing the ancient rite of chasing away evil and celebrating the triumph of reborn life with the beginning of spring and the associated hopes of man for a better harvest and a better life.
It is hardly a coincidence that Surva is celebrated at the same time of year that we in
These are Brideogs at Maire Phaidíns kitchen on the Aran Islands. The dolls they carry are representations of St. Brigid. The poem they recite is below. (Joe McGowan photo)
Who was St. Brigid? Was she a pagan goddess or a Christian saint? Scholars hold that the saint was given the name of Brigit from a goddess in Celtic mythology, the name meaning Fiery Arrow. Ancient texts tell us that Brigit was daughter of the Dagda (the Celtic Zeus), who became a Christian. She is one of the Irish saints as to whose relationship with a pagan divinity there can be no doubt.
There are several indications that the pagan Brigid was goddess of fertility and agriculture. The suggestion is strengthened by the cult of St. Brigid who is, in folk culture, the patroness of farm animals and whose feast day is the first day of spring. The festival may have been originally connected with the pagan goddess, much of whose imagery was subsumed in that of the saint.
Like the ‘kukeri’ of the Balkans, mummers, wrenboys and brideogs still celebrate certain festivals in
“Crios, Crios, Brid mo chrios
Muire is amac
Brid is a brat
Mas feoir ata sibh anoct
Go mo seact fearr a bheidh sibh blian ó anoct.”
Mary is out
Brigid’s is the cloak
No matter how well you are tonight
May you be seven times better a year from now)