The solstice goat

Welcoming the Solstice Goat
Often the revelers will dress up in mummers costumes, imitating animals such as the wolf, the bear, or the goat. At one time, these animals might have been sacrificed as an offering to the gods or the spirits, but nowadays are treated as special visitors from the spirit realm. Like ancient shamanic rites of times past, these animals are supernatural creatures from the lower world who can bestow blessings on us in the middle world. The goat, or koza (коза pronounced koh-ZAH), in particular, is seen as a fertility symbol, and is looked upon with special honor during the time when people want to call back the abundance of the spring, summer, and autumn.
This sacrifice is acted out in the plays presented by the carolers. A young man, wearing a sheepskin coat and a mask resembling a goat’s head with ears made of wheat, will perform a dance meant to bring an abundant harvest. The rest of the revelers will sing songs with lyrics such as “Where the goat goes, there wheat grows; where the goat stamps its feet, there are seven sheaves of wheat.” Then a pantomime ensues where the goat is pursued by hunters and wolves, and killed and gutted. The singers then call out, “Come alive, Goat!” and the goat rises from the dead and returns to the imaginary field, which also comes back to life. The reborn goat is then is led around the house by the children of the home who act out the sowing of wheat, and the goat finishes his performance with a blessing of abundance for the household: “May this farmer’s cattle be unbedeviled and full of milk, and may his oats sow themselves and his wheat be of the best sort.”



on picture Kukeri from Bulgaria

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