Today, together with our local adventurer Sara Pavlovska who made these beautiful photos, we will take you for a walk to the village of Ratevo in Maleshevo. In this village, every January 20th, the so-called “Ratevski bamburci” are traditionally celebrated, a manifestation where the locals disguise themselves and parade through the village with masks made of animal skins.
Like all the other January manifestations, the “Ratevski bamburci” have their own symbolism. This event is believed to have been practiced by the first inhabitants of Ratevo, and the locals think that the name “bamburci” is a variant of “babari”, while the elders believe that the first name for the masked processions was “rusalije”.
This event has pagan elements, but it is traditionally held every year on the feast of St. John the Baptist. Masked people parade through the village believing that in this way they will drive the evil out of the village.
What is interesting about this event is the way the masks are prepared. The preparation is done in specially designated rooms and special gatherings, but also on days that Orthodox Christians believe to be “unbaptized days”, i.e. the days from Christmas to Epiphany.
Each participant prepares a costume of animal skin, which is usually made of sheep or goat. In addition to sewing the skins, horns, bells and cowbells are also collected.
The skins are treated with salt and then left to dry. The preparation of the skins takes about two weeks, and some of them weigh up to 70 kilograms. Everyone who is present at the event is painted on the face with “sazdji”, and if the “bamburci” notice that someone from the guests is not wearing mask, they go and paint his face in black.