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spring traditions: may: The Holy Ghost (Rousalja)

      Along with The Fiftieth Day those are the last holidays of the Easter cycle. The Holy Ghost is celebrated on the fifty first day after Easter. These holidays are the start of the Rousalska Sunday.

      The Rousalska Sunday:
      It is believed that during that week the rousalii which are evil spirits come. That is why all the different rituals try to propitiate and influence them to insure fertility, health and wellbeing for the family. People decorate their homes with wreaths made of flowers and grass, walnut leaves and absinth. Different games are played, songs are sung and sacrifices are made.
      According to the people's belief the rousal soughing that has begun on Spasovden ends during these days. Absinth and walnut leaves are kept in the house during the whole week. They also carry absinth around their feet to protest themselves from rousal disease. Strong restrictions about work are observed. The women do not paint, spin, weave nor wash. People do not sleep during the day especially not in the open. People try not to walk in the fields and the meadows so that they don't step on the rousal table which is considered the most dangerous place and it is believed that if someone steps on it that someone gets ill or even dies. The rousal Wednesday and Friday are considered the most dangerous day of the whole week.
      If someone gets ill during that week he or she will not get better or it will be very hard for him or her to get better.
      During the whole period rousalii go around the houses, they sing songs and dance. They are dressed in special attires and make magical movements. They aim to make the mermaids happy so that they make the corn grow tall, the vines and the fruit-tree to be fruity. In the places where the rousals have been no one gets ill.
      In the Northwestern Bulgaria rousalci and kalushari go around the houses and sing songs. They have a leader, called fatafin, who knows how to practice magic and spells and can recognize magic herbs. This title goes from one generation to another. The fatafin tells who the other participants will be, they should be honest, spry and gritty. The kalushari are always an odd number, usually seven. Each member of the group gives a vow and kisses the flag and the staff of the fatafin and they give him a rousal staff. All of them should have fasted for three days before the vow. The rousal flag is made of white linen attached to a long stick on the top of which there is a bunch of healing herbs. Some of those herbs are also put in the four edges of the linen. The rousal staff is made of cornel-tree, ash-tree or sycamore and it is decorated with metal gauds. This staff is used every year. They do not make a new one. The rousalii put a wreath on their caps and small bells and metal gauds on their sandals. There is a man in the group that plays different instruments, he plays the kaval, the bag-pipe, the wooden pipe or the zourla. They carry along a pot with healing water, a new green cup, garlic and vinegar. There are two kinds of kalushar games - one is played for fertility and the other one for health. When they visit an ill man they cover him with a rug and dance around him, lined up according to their age. The fatafin stays out of the circle and holds the flag and the cup. The dance changes from a calm one to a brisk. They toss the ill man up and the fatafin massages him with the vinegar while the flag hangs over the ill man. The dance starts again after that but this time the rousalii jump over the ill man three times. The ill man drinks from the water in the cup. Then they crash the pot and the water splashes around him. The ill man gets up and starts running. Two or three of the kalushari fall down to his place, hypnotized by the fatafin.