Every year, during the first week of March, a folk carnival is held in Shiroka Luka, known by the name Pesponedelnik. This traditional ritual has roots in pagan times and represents a symbolic re-enactment of the creation of the world. Dancers, wearing hair-raising masks and monster-like attire, perform different dances and moves, which are believed to scare away the evil spirits of winter and to help bring health and good fortune to the people, as well as fertility to the land. The group of masked dancers called Koukeri gather from all over the country to perform their regional types of dances.
”St. Laser Day”
This traditional ritual takes place every year, eight days before Easter. Young maidens sing special songs to bring health and prosperity to the people while going from door to door in the village. The maidens receive small gifts from the people they visit. In the villages in the region this used to be a popular day to ask for the hand of a woman.
It is celebrated for the wellbeing of the horses. Before sunrise the women prepare the ritual breads, which are horse or horseshoe, shaped and decorated with walnuts, garlic gloves and salt. Each woman gives away those breads and at the same time she is jumping, running, immitating the movements and the nieghing of the horses. Every woman tries not to be in the rear. Pieces of the ritual breads are put in the horses' food as well. Giving away boiled corn is said to bring health to the horses.The most interesting moment from Todorovden is the kushija. Rituals involving the youmg brides that are in the first year of their marriage are done as well. In the western part of Bulgaria the young bride, dressed in her wedding gown, goes to the church on Friday. Her mother-in-law accompanies her and carries a baking-dish with boiled corn and a special kind of bread in it.
The brides stay outside and the mothers-in-law go inside where the priest gives an account of what has been braught. On their way back the mothers-in-law and the other women kick the brides. The corn that has been braught back home is spread over the gardens to be sowed and to grow. In some regions other interesting rituals are executed in order to bring health and fertility. In the morning on the day of the holiday the young bride prepares small breads. Dressed up for the holiday she goes around the homes of close friends and relatives and gives them the small breads she has prepared. They wish her to have many children. Last she goes to her parents. Har husband and her mother-in-law are there as well and they all sit around the table. Early in the morning of Todorovden the mothers give a bath to their children to protect them from getting ill. Before the kushia starts all the women wash their hair with water that has sraw from the stables in it. After the horses have passed the streets the women throw the water they have used for washing their hair after the animals and wish they have long and strong hair just like the horses' mane.
In the Rodopy Mountain area the ritual bekane (bleating) is popular. After the church service the hostess gives every member of the family a bite of the peas she have put in hot water the previous day. She throws up to the ceiling a handful of peas for everyone and for the cattle as well. The lasses thread rosaries of soaked in water peas or gram. they decorate them with silk threads and give them to the lads they have chosen for future husbands who, on their behalf, give different presents back.