In Zaburdo, the sun goes up with the custom of Old Martha

In the Rhodope village of Zaburdo each year, on the night of 13th to 14th March, masqueraded boys and men hidden behind terrible masks roam through the streets and drive away the evil forces. But the strong sounds of the pimples and the terrible clothes have another purpose – to awaken from the winter sleep the Sun, which, according to the local belief, is a man. And to make it shine brighter. The custom is celebrated just as the ancestors did to the local centuries ago.

That is why the Stara Martha celebration is the most beloved in the Rhodope village, known for keeping its traditions. In the ritual, men are necessarily involved, with no age restrictions, but they must be bachelors. After midnight the masked youths go around the houses, frighten the farmers and they donate them in exchange eggs and money.


If masked people do not go in one’s house, this is considered an insult and shows that the hosts are not respected in the community. In the middle of the village, a great fire burns at night, whose flames leap for health. Typically, prizes are given for the best costumes or elements of the disguise.

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I love to travel because of the encounters with diverse people and cultures and the chance to touch other worlds. And this can happen even without leaving the borders of your own country. For example, at a festival, you can travel thousands of years and dozens of borders without leaving your place. For me, the journey is not only beautiful landscapes and ancient landmarks but also thousands of human stories. Let's learn them together.