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Friday, May 10, 2019

Horo for the Dead


Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us; our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life. – Albert Einstein

On Orthodox Easter Monday, the Bulgarian National Radio published a post on a Vlach custom: The Horo for the Dead.

It is done in the Northwest (Severnjasko) region of Bulgaria, a place where the population is aging and dying and few young people are born to replace them. The people in this region get together at the Albotin monastery or in the town square with pictures of relatives who died since the previous Easter. Unfortunately, the custom may disappear because the authorities don't support it.

Their way of mourning the dead is to dance with them in spirit. Each dancer holds the picture of a deceased relative. Most of the people in the line are elderly, although there are a few young people. They dance a slow pravo horo, accompanied either by an accordion or brass band.

I found this post shortly I had been notified of the death of a relative in Puerto Rico.  She was my aunt, who passed on at the ripe old age of 88.

This custom reminds me of the Mexican Day of the Dead, when relatives visit cemeteries and bring food and drink for themselves and the spirits of the departed.  They decorate the graves and celebrate the lives of their deceased friends and relatives.

The Sunday night group used to have a memorial dance in June. Tom Pixton (who is fantastic on the accordion), played requests from the group, usually a favorite dance in memory of a member who had passed on.  Our group is aging and few young people are replacing them. In that respect we are much like the northwest region of Bulgaria.

Here is the video (entirely in Bulgarian). It begins with a church service. It is worth watching in its entirety; but if you're limited on time the dancing (with accordion and drum accompaniment) starts at 11:34.  The dance in the town square, accompanied by a brass band starts at 15:00.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Dancing Across Bulgaria: The Pravo and Regional Folk Dance Styles

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