History and culture of the Roma in Bulgaria
Calendar holidays are one of the most important elements in the specific culture of each ethnic group. They express a person’s possible desire to know and control time, deviate from partial difficulties and tribulations, give the opportunity to feel more meaningful, turn to the hope of the coming of good. Calendar holidays of the Roma are showing how close are all traditions and customs of all ethnic groups living in Bulgaria; they illustrate the thesis written at the beginning of Chapter Two about Roma culture as a specific subculture in the national Bulgarian culture. They are suitable to learn in the elementary school course because, on the one hand, they are associated with pleasant (festive) emotions and easily arouse interest in children, regardless of their ethnicity. Non-Roma children, on the other hand, could see many elements of the festive rituals of their ethnicity and thus overcome some of their prejudices against the Roma. The holidays are suitable for learning also because of the possibility to to apply a variety of non-teaching and extracurricular forms of education- holiday play, organizing Survakari (for Bango Vasili) or ‘lazarki’ and others. In general, Roma holidays coincide with the Bulgarian calendar folklor holidays (even with Roma Muslims), there are many elements of Bulgarian holiday ritual in Roma rituals. But every one of the holidays gets specific Roma understanding: it is associated with Roma legend, parts of the ritual are modified bеcause of the spirituality of the Roma people. What is more: elements of the rituals that have long disappeared among Bulgarians continue to be found in many Roma groups today. As a result, the holidays and customs of the Roma in Bulgaria cannot be reduced either to the holidays and customs of the Bulgarian ethnic group (despite their Bulgarian substratum), nor to be identified with the holidays and customs of the Roma from other European countries (despite the Roma making sense of them). The biggest calendar holidays of the Bulgarian Roma are St. George (Erdelez), Easter (Patragi) and Vasilyovden (Bango Vasili). They are celebrated by all Roma communities, including khorokhane roma. They also note many other Christian holidays – Christmas, Ivanov day, Zagovezni, Todorov day, Holy Mother of God, Petlyovden, etc., and the khorakhane roma also note the two Bayrams.
ROMA FEASTS AND CUSTOMS