Tuesday, February 1, 2011

This Brings Out the Animal in Me...Critters in Balkan Folk Music

(rabbit photo from Wikipedia; cat photo is of "Fluffy" by K.D. Brown)

Happy Year of the Rabbit!

The Chinese New Year begins on February 3rd, 2011. The first New Moon in late January/early February starts another cycle in the Chinese Zodiac.

For those of you who follow astrology, the Chinese Zodiac is different than the Western, in that in consists entirely of animals. In the Western Zodiac, there is one inanimate object, Libra, the Scales, and several human figures: Virgo (the virgin), Sagittarius (half-human and half horse, and Aquarius, either a man or woman pouring water.

The word "zodiac" means a "circle of animals", and is of Greek origin.

Today's topic will be songs and dances about critters in Balkan folklore. Folk songs and folk tales often use animals to describe human qualities, both good and bad (without offending the humans!)

The first dance-song, from Macedonia, is about a rabbit, in honor of the Chinese New Year. The song is Zajko Kokorajko, the dance is called Arap.

Mr. Rabbit wanted to get married, but little did he know about the surprise that awaited him :) You can find the lyrics here: http://www.dunav.org.il/lyrics/arap_zajko_kokorajko.html

Foxes are wily, clever creatures, and fortunately the rabbit in our story what the fox had in store for him before it was too late.

The next video is a dance from Romania called Vulpita (little fox). I've never seen a fox dancing, but I'm sure if they do it's fast.....

One of my favorite animals is the cat. One thing cats like to do is steal food, and Fatso, my current kitty is no exception. As a result, he weighs over 20 pounds, and he refuses to go on a diet. He thinks our food tastes better than his, this explains why he jumps on the table when nobody's looking.

The next dance is Ripna Maca, about a cat who steals sausage, much to the annoyance of his humans. Version one is from Serbia.

The lyrics are here: http://www.dunav.org.il/lyrics/ripna_maca.html

The priest's wife in the song didn't take too kindly to the cat stealing food. In my house it's not a big deal because Fatso is spoiled. Besides, cats do whatever they damn well please, and there's no stopping them.

Version two is from Bulgaria.

May the year of the Rabbit bring everyone health and happiness!

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