Cultural Revival Program

The Cultural Revival Program has been established in 2015 with the recreation of two of the most popular traditions in Bulgaria – “Lazaruvane” and “Koleduvane”. The program aims at educating the community by recreating and preserving ancient Bulgarian music and dance related traditions by uniting art forms, such as custom related dances, authentic folk songs, acting, and hand crafts. As part of the program, various group members have conducted research for authentic folk songs, authentic sayings used by the performers to bless the households to be visited, and handcrafts from different folklore regions to incorporate into the presentation.

To present the full spectrum of the Bulgarian Culture, the group performs with authentic folk costumes, which are vivid example of the traditional handcrafts such as weaving, cross-stitching, tailoring, and masterful color arrangements. In 2016, the program was extended by including various short craft workshops as weaving and flower wReatHs making. Since the nature of the program is mainly educational, the group is involving community members, who are not participating otherwise into the group initiatives. Bulgarian folk group "ROSA" is partnering with the Bulgarian School in Atlanta for the recreation of the spring tradition “Lazaruvane”. Also, we have recruited individuals from the community to participate into the Christmas tradition of “Koleduvane” (Traditional Bulgarian Christmas Caroling).

Lazaruvane is a spring custom. Only lasses and girls take part in it. Per the Bulgarian tradition, Lazarus Saturday is the day that marks the growth of a maiden: from a girl to a young woman ready to be married, and it is always celebrated on the last Saturday before Easter. In the past, it was believed that every girl should be a part of this ritual before she gets married. Girls who participate in this ritual are called “Lazarka”. On Saturday, early in the morning, a group of girls would gather to choose their leader, called „kumitsa”, and sing a special song to her. After that, the girls would go around the village, proceeding froM east to west, entering every house and singing to each family member of the residence. The hosts would give them small presents and food for gratitude. There are different songs for the different members of the households: for A lass, lad, girl, child, host, and for different animals in the house, as well. Per the tradition, the girls’ songs are believed to bring health, happiness, and prosperity to the people. Later that night, the girls gather in groups around the village and begin making the bridal wreaths from the flowers and the willow branches they collected during the day.

Koleduvane is a traditional Bulgarian custom that takes place at a particular time each year – on the night before Christmas (from midnight till dawn on 25th December, to be exact). It is performed only by men, mostly youngsters and guided by an older one. The preparation about Koleduvane starts a few days earlier (on 20th December). This is the time when all men gather together and learn the songs and dances that will be performed on the night before Christmas. It is then, when they decide about who their leader will be – usually this is an older man (preferably married). He is called "stanenik" and should be a good man with a big heart, generous, smart, and artistic. It is said that he is the mediator between the dead and alive, between the old and the New Year. He is the main figure and has the leading part in all Koleduvane rituals and performances. On the night before Christmas, the men from the group gather together, wearing festive clothes and symbols, and head east in the neighborhood they had chosen to visit. On their way they sing special Christmas songs that have the power to chase the evil spirits away from the neighborhood and ensure a happy prosperous New Year filled with laughter, new life, and rich crops.Then, they move on to the next house, and the next one – singing and dancing till dawn. All the rituals they perform aim to bring to the family they have visited longevity, health, prosperity, and luck. Typically, they have a song for each member of the family – the head of the home, his wife, small children, unmarried girls and boys, etc. There are even songs dedicated to the household’s animals – cows, goats, sheep, etc.