< Customs and Rituals

Lazaruvane is a ritual, which takes a special place in the folk calendar and is performed on the Christian holiday celebrated on the last Saturday before Easter. However this fact has no particular connection with the Christian legend of St. Lazarus. This is a folk custom related to the fertility and the continuation of the family. In the traditions associated with Lazarovden can be found traces of the ancient pagan rituals, which may refer to the awakening of the Nature for a new life in the spring. The origins of this ritual lie in the ancient times when the girls of a tribe or a village were kidnapped by the young men of another. This happened during the spring months in the forest or along a river bank. A seed in the ground grows out; the animals leave their hide-outs, and the love feelings and desire to create a family life erupt within the young people’s hearts. The folk believes that the house in which Lazarki have sung, is a good place - there will be fertility and the farmers may enjoy a health and cheerful life.

The key-performers in the ritual are girls from 5-6 years to 10-12 years old. The preparation for this custom begins during the Easter fast. They gather to learn and remained themselves of songs and games connected with “Lazarovden”. Usually they are getting help by an older woman, who was a „lazarka“ during her youth and knows the ritual songs. The preparation consists in creating clothing and requisites fort the ritual. The maidens are dressed in festive costumes, often bridal clothing, which the girls have taken of recently married girls. During the preparations shall be agreed, which places are going to be visited by each group. The groups are divided by neighborhoods and a village or town that has only one group of „lazarki“, is rare to find. Each group choose a leader, who is also called – „buenets“, „voivode“or „krasnitsa“.

In Lyulyakovo, the girls use a doll in the ritual practice of Lazaruvane. It is made out of a cross part from spinning wheel. Although the puppet is male and bears the named Lazarus, it is dresses in female bridal clothes - white shirt, pinafore, apron and waist. The doll is covered with a red cloak and decorated with flowers and wreaths. Carring this doll, the girls go round the houses and sing for health. The hosts themselves tell the maidens for which family member to sing with the words:
"We have a maid or a bachelor or a little boy, sing us something for them."
Finally, all of the girls head to a well or a river and throw their wreaths in the water. This custom is carried out as an introduction of the girls in society. The maidens visit each house in the village and perform special ritual songs and dances with romantic motifs. In the folk tradition the custom of lazaruvane was obligatory for every girl, without which she could not marry. The idea for the forthcoming marriage can be seen as the girls wear typical bridal costumes and decoration.

Plamena Kirova

Traditionelle bulgarische Bräuche - Lasaruvane (Deutsche Version herunterladen)
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