Bulgaria's ancient mysterious traditions, steeped in their folklore date back to Thracian times to the 5th century and are still very alive. To this day, the sacred ritual of "KUKERI" still thrives and is performed in the country's remote mountain regions throughout the month of January.
These other-worldly rituals are intended to ward off the evil spirits of winter, which might otherwise bring ill fortune or "loshotiya" (in Bulgarian) to the community.
Each region in Bulgaria celebrates the Kukeri tradition in a slightly different way - all with the same intention but with their own style and flare.
Kukeri wear wooden masks, covered in colorful yarn threads carved with the faces of haunting beasts, and heavy bells hang around their waists, creating an enchanting symphony as they dance in hypnotic rhythms.
As the tradition requires, every member of the Kukeri group must have a costume of his or her own. A costume is either inherited or sewn by its owner. Some of the bells weigh no less than 220 lbs (100 kg), and the art of dancing with this burden around your waist is a thing to admire.