The kukeri games are the successor of the antique Dionysus fêtes, festivities that celebrated the rebirth of nature in the spring.
By putting on a mask, the kukeri make a symbolic connection with the spirits of their forefathers and assist them in providing fecundity to the people, livestock, and fields. At least that’s what some ethnologists believe.
In a troupe, the masks may appear to be identical, but in fact, each is different. Usually, the mask depicts an animal, a bird, or a personage from the kukeri troupe.
There are several types of kukeri in a troupe. Besides the King, the Bride, and the Bridegroom, there’s also a priest, a camel or a donkey, a tax man, and so on.
It may take months to create a kuker mask. And its cost may be as high as 5,000 leva.
Masks similar to those of the kukeri can be found also in parts of northern Greece. But it remains a real mystery how the geroi masks, which are very similar to those of the kukeri, became popular on the island of Skyros, in the Sporades Islands. Geroi celebrate on the streets on the festival of Sirni Zagovezni