The village of Pirin is located in Southwest Bulgaria, on the border between Middle and South Pirin. It is situated in a picturesque area along the flow of Bistritsa River. The village is only 36 km away from Kulata and 55 km from Sandanski. There are hiking trails for Pirin hut, Oreliak Peak, Bezbog, Kashina Waterfall “Skoko” and many others.
It is supposed that Pirin village has existed since 1150. As a type of settlement it is from the so-called "collected type". This type of settlement is predominant, and these settlements were relatively large. They had 40-50 to 150-200 houses. In the “Ethnography of the Adrianople, Monastir and Salonica, published in Constantinople in 1878 and reflecting the statistics of the male population in 1878, 120 households with 410 inhabitants were registered in the village of Pirin. In 1905 there is 1 primary Bulgarian school with 1 teacher and 38 students.
In the Pirin region planning composition of the settlements was dictated by numerous factors - relief, communication links, presence of water areas. The houses built during the various stages of the Revival have improved in view of "building technology".
According to the available historical information, the village of Pirin was one of the big centers of self-government. In it area there were 11 ovens (pechtsi) and 5 forgeries. The last smith worked until 1896. In the village there were about 30 smiths (kuzni) for horseshoes, nails, agricultural implements and others. Blacksmithing is a craft which is in closest connection to the main occupations - agriculture and livestock breeding, as well as to traditional transport associated with the use of livestock and horses. These crafts have been practiced by whole generations of blacksmiths who have crafted tools and instruments. The production of metal instruments led to the formation of a special group of craftsmen, as their work started to become more and more independent. Thus the separation of craftsmen from farmers and stock-breeders was achieved.
The clever and inventive craftsmen of that time used the water force to move the forge machines. The mechanical hammer, which was driven by a water stream, is called “samokov”.
Today, this little village takes us back in time - back in the Revival period with its preserved look, with the architecture of the houses and the church from 1885. The spirit of the past is felt in the houses, in the ringing of the flocks, in the clothing of women with their headscarves and aprons, with a deep dark red color of the local costumes.
The Church of St. Nichola or St. Nicholai is a Revival church. Architecturally, the temple is a three-nave pseudobasilica. The ceilings are cased and polychrome. The iconostasis is painted and partially carved. There is a partial decoration on the bishop’s throne and the place for praying. The icons and the six forged candlesticks are very interesting. Today, the temple is a sanctuary of the village and every year on 2nd of November the temple feast is celebrated here.
Architecture of the houses in the village is typical for the area, the streets are narrow, and the life of local people is quite real, authentic, Bulgarian.
Foundations of the houses are made of stone masonry and horizontal beams or planks are laid in several rows between stones for reinforcement. The robustness of this construction is extremely great, which is confirmed by the fact that the houses have resisted the whims of the time till nowadays. Over the years, the construction has been developing in architectural terms, and groceries, pubs and cafés appeared on the ground floors. The stairs became internal and some of the houses are built on three floors. The ground floors are built of stone walls and the upper floors are made up by the pillar-tile system.
If you visit the village of Pirin, the local people will tell you legends and stories about the Dragon who walked along Pirin, about the waters of Struma and Mesta. Even today the ancient belief about dragons is preserved in Pirin. Many traditions are associated with this image. Some of them are already forgotten, but other continue to be told and pass from older to younger.
The legend about the girl Stana and how the dragon caught her comes from the village of Pirin. There is a song:
„Mari Stano, Malka Stano,
Stana druzhki prorokuvat:
- Haide Stano, haide druzhko,
hai da idem na horoto
da zapeem lyapa pesen,
da zaigraem drebno horo –
Ya Stana im govoreshe:
- Oi le, druzhki, mili druzhki,
Stana s vas ne mozh da doide
Stana si e san sanila, che ke neya zmei da grabne.
Ya druzhki i guivorea:
- Mari Stano, Malka Stano, sanishta sa dyavolshtini,
Koga bilo na Velikden, na Velikden, na dobar den,
ta stanaa, otidoa, otidoa na oroto,
zapeyaa lepa pesen, zaigraa drebno horo.
Ta igraa, shto igraa.
Koga bilo na planina, zamaglilo tanka magla,
Zarosila tanka rosa,
Po rosata zmeiot gore- dvash mi gramna, trizh mi tryasna
I si grabna Malka Stana, otkara a v Zmeyu skala...”
„Hey Stano, little Stano,
Stana’s fellows say:
- Come on Stano, come on fellow,
let’s go to dance
to sing beautiful song,
to dance slowly –
But Stana spoke to them:
- Oh, fellow, dear fellows,
Stana cannot come with you
Stana has dreamed that the dragon will catch her.
But her fellows told her:
- Hey Stano, little Stano, dreams are devilry,
When Easter came, on Easter, on a good day,
they got up, got up, went to dance,
sang beautiful song, started dancing slowly.
They danced, and danced.
When the mountain peak darkened, thin fog dimmed,
Slight dew dropped,
After the dew came the dragon- he thundered twice, he thundered three times
he caught little Stana, took her in the dragon’s cave...”
The song continues with a story how her brothers have searched her for three years. When they finally found her, she was swaying a son…
Ka gi vide Malka Stana, vikom se e proruknala:
- Oi te tebe, zmei goryanin, kade da si, tuk da doidesh-
da dokarash tri tovara, tri tovara chisto brashno
Chetvartiya med i maslo, da gostime moite bratya i dvanadese bratucheda!
Ka ya dochu zmei ot gora,
ta dokara tri tovara, tri tovara chisto brashno
chetvartiya med i maslo, ta gostia devet bratya i dvanadese bratucheda!
When little Stana saw them, she shouted:
- Hey you, dragon, where are you, come here-
take three burdens, three burdens pure flour.
The fourth with honey and butter, to treat my brothers and twelve cousins!
When the dragon heard her from the forest,
he took three burdens , three burden of pure flour.
The fourth with honey and butter, so they treated nine brothers and twelve cousins!
When the song ends, begins the legend…
„Years have passed and the boy grew up. One day, it was a sunny day, the dragon went out in front of the cave with Stana and the child. Sun shined them on and the dragon got sleepy. He told to Stana:
- You will guard. You will watch about even the slightest cloud in the sky from Belasitsa, if it appears, wake me up immediately. The dragon lied and fell asleep.
At one moment, Stana saw a small cloud from Belasitsa, but she felt sorrow to wake him up. This cloud started getting bigger and bigger. After passing Katuntsi, the cloud became very big. Stana cried, because she made a mistake and didn’t wake the dragon up.
She cried over him and woke him up. When he saw the cloud, he went inside the cave and took his mace. At this time, the other dragon thundered, ruined the cave and killed the dragon.
Stana was left alone with her child. She had no place to go, so she went to her father.
The child grew up, but when he was playing with his friends, it seemed that he has unique power. When he became thirteen or fourteen, his grandfather who had been coaler, took him to help. They went to the locality Tsvyatkov grob where there was a lake. The child was going around the lake but his grandfather did not notice.
When the boy became 15 years old, he told:
- Granpa, listen – you must do what I will tell you!
- What, my son?-he said
- You’ll take a ram – buy it and slaughter it.
- Why do you need it?
- Don’t ask me now. Just look for a fatter one, it should have fat. The child repeatedly said this and the grandfather agreed.
- Now make the tallow on balls.
The grandfather made this.
- Now listen. The dragon that killed my father is in this lake. I will go in it and kill him.
- Don’t do this, son you are small. He will kill you.
- Don’t be afraid Just listen, be careful what I will tell you. You’ll see that when we start the fight, the lake will become roaring. When you see a blue flame, you will throw one ball, when you see a red flame, you will not. Remember this very well.
Then the boy entered the lake. They started fighting and the lake roared. When there was a blue flame, the grandfather threw a ball, when there was a red one, he didn’t.
The legend goes on…
The boy won the battle but said to his grandfather that it is time to take farewell.
- I am a dragon offspring and now I will fly away.
Then he went to live on the Chaushka Rock. The lake got dry, it’s water outflowed and now it is called “Suhoto ezero”(The Dry Lake).
(Collection of Folklore and Etnography, People's prose from the Blagoevgrad District - L.Daskalova, D.Dobreva, Y.Kotseva, E Miceva BAS 1985)
Every year, on the first Monday of November, there is given a health sacrificial rite. The ritual is called "Puhtyo" by local people. The sacrificial rite “Puhtyo” is very old and, according to local people's stories, dates back to the times when the plague was wandering in these lands.
The legend tells us that a long time ago people in the village made the sacrificial rite in the locality Holy Trinity. There was a village once. But there was not enough water, there were diseases, and people moved.
Although here in the new place, the water from Bistritsa River was abundant, people continued to suffer and die. One day at night, many men sat by the river. They spoke and thought about what to do, how to stop the disease and dying. When thinking about how many animals they should slaughter, the number was always insufficient for the whole village. When they were thinking about this, people and livestock started returning from the field.
An old and weak ox went through the village. Someone said:
“This Puhtyo will be the sacrificial animal. It can’t work, however!”
So, on Monday, they made a sacrificial rite with Puhtyo in order to stop the disease. From this day on, each year people make a sacrificial rite…
Once, there was a belief that all diseases are evil spirits, and among them, the worst was the plague. When it arrived in the village, people decided to make a sacrifice to appease the "black disease". Even nowadays, people believe that by offering sacrifices they are asking for help and protection for the whole village. Today, the famous singer Lyubimka Bisserova returns back to the years of her childhood, the church and the sacrificial rite...
“I remember how my mother and dad made us bring wood to the church. There they were giving us a little liver, to bake it or try it. The women of the village carried gifts, beans, potatoes, wheat to help the church. Then everyone bought something from the market. .It was very funny. The church used to put 7-8 caldrons and cook for the village and the guests. Everyone took from the sacrificial rite, and in return people left some money.
The children were putting the liver on the stove and it was giving fluffy foam. We used to call it puff. Over the years, the different families from the village of Pirin donated the ox for the sacrificial rite. And so tradition continues to this day ... ".
The local population has preserved the traditional folklore and ethnography of the region, as they have remained a part of people's way of life, passing from generation to generation.
One of the interesting holidays in the village of Pirin is Easter. Preparations for the holiday started from Todor’s Sunday. The hostess of the house collected the eggs from the Easter stalks. The number of eggs that had to be painted for the holiday depended on the number of members in the household. The eggs were painted on Great Thursday. The eggs that were collected from the stalks on that day were the first to be painted. They also had a special purpose. The first red egg was placed in front of the Virgin Mary's icon and was kept there until the next Easter. The remaining red eggs taken from the stalks were kept for Easter “kolaks” (ring-shaped bread). The Easter “kolaks” were left on the table covered with white cover.
In the past, the holiday has duration of days in the village of Pirin. On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday people celebrated. Wednesday was a day for rest and people called it “free/wasted Wednesday”.
On that Wednesday men and women should plow the field and the owner of the land should bury a red egg in order to make land “fertile”.
Thursday and Friday were again festive days.
People went to the church early on this holiday.
People still remember the colorful dances which young and old danced. The “horo” curved up on the village square and the music from the tambourines, the drums and the bagpipes was heard far away. Kids knocked on the eggs, laughing and boasting "My egg has five wins, my egg has six wins ...".
The days of the feast were solemn. "People walked into each other’s houses, best men, young, married couples – they carried red eggs to uncles, mother and father. They greeted with the words: Hristos Voskrese and the other people answered "Vo istina voskrese”! (In truth!") That greeting reflected the warmth and true faith that had been entangled in it since ancient times. Faith tangled in fertility traditions.
Babugers (specially dressed men in scary clothing) play masquerade games. The ritual in the village of Pirin is called "Kamilla" and is performed for fertility. They called a girl - a mill. "Let fertility be flowing, a river flowing down to move the milling stones in order to grind fine white flour."
The custom "atsakane" is preserved till today in the village of Pirin - burning of ritual fires, called "sirnitsi", using juniper and after that men jump over the fire for health.
Life in the village was difficult. The village of Pirin is mountainous, and the locals have been engaged in raising animals. The children also helped - the boys were feeding the animals and the girls helped in the housework. When the girl was 18, she could already get married.
The wedding in the village of Pirin is unique experience, rich of many emotional moments - a complete spectacle. This unique spectacle is fully described in Lyubimka Bisserova's book "The Traditional Wedding in the Village of Pirin".
"Different moments in the wedding custom are too many and almost all are accompanied by songs. Every moment has its own emotional appearance, reflected in mood-like songs: some are strict, solemn (the kneading of the wedding breads, decorating of the flag “feruglitsa”), others are nostalgic, sad (knitting, veiling the bride, taking farewell with the father's house), third are joyful (dancing “horo” and especially on Monday when guests drink sweet brandy) "- writes Elena Stoin. Matchmaking was done only on Thursday or Sunday and on holidays like Christmas, Easter.
Inviting or “kalesvane” took a special place in the wedding cycle, because even the closest relative was not present if they were not asked to take part in the wedding. “Zaseulka”- main participants in this custom were women. Three sieves are prepared - two are carried by the mother-in-law, one by the maid of honor (kuma). Wheat is poured in the sieves and women start sieving. They are looking for the boy's ring. Women sing:
„Donesete sito, lе, koprineno,
Da le, otseem momkoviya prasten,
Momko, le, viya ta i mominiya,
Da sa, le, gotve mladata nevyasta,
Da sa, le, gotve rano vav nedelya,
Che ki, le idem dvesta, trista svata,
Dvesta, le Trista svata I petima,
I pe, le trima deverya.
Bring the sieve, silky,
Let sieve the groom’s ring,
Young man, his ring and the girl’s one,
Let the young bride prepares,
Let her prepare early on Sunday,
Because we’ll come two hundred, three hundred guests,
Two hundred, three hundred and five,
and three brothers-in-law.
If any of the women found the ring, she should give it to the mother-of-law. The wheat is brought to the mill where it was grinded and the flour was used for kneading the wedding bread.
“Furuglitsa” (flag) is made of a sturdy, straight tree (rosehip or dogwood). Only girls and women come to this pre-wedding custom and only the brother-in-law worked with them to redeem it when it was ready. Women first sew a red cloth of silk or a cotton cloth with beautiful patterns. Then on it are sewn "varaik” or" greshnel” (ivy).
Ivy occupies a great place in cult practice. In folk beliefs it symbolizes health and longevity. As a symbol of longevity, its leaves decorate the wedding banner and the wooding vessel for inviting guests.
At the top of the “furuglitsa” there was put an apple. A bunch of prepared flowers - basil, ivy, etc. are arranged around it. The flowers are wrapped with a red thread for health and against bad forces. The thread was not tied in order not to tangle the life of the young pair. Often, people put on the “furuglitsa” cross instead of an apple and wrapped it with red yarn. Then three apples are put, and below them is put the girl's wreath, symbolizing the rings - the unification of the young couple. The wreath is removed when people go to the girl’s house on Friday morning along with a "mominka" –a ram with horns decorated with flowers.
When girls prepare the “furuglitsa” they stand right and sing:
furuglitsa pere, i,
moma sartse lampere /2
kato vran kon v livade, /2
kato listo nad ioda.
Furuglitsa is trembling,
girl’s heart is beating/2
as a black horse on a meadow/2
as a leaf over water.
(”The traditional wedding in the village of Pirin”, Lyubimka Bisserova)
The wedding has always been accompanied by a feverish preparation both in the home of the girl and the boy's home. There were put tables and benches - covered with colored rugs.
Wedding gusts go to the girl’s house. The gates of her house and the door are closed tightly and traditionally there was made a custom for "bargaining for money". When bride puts her shoes, they also sing:
Maichino e do praga, a momkovo – do zhivot. ( village of Pirin)
Mar sobuvai, mari momya, maichino,
ta obuvai, mari momya, rabrovo,
maichino e, mari momya, du praga,
rabrobo ya, mari momya, du zhivot.
Put off your shoes, hey, girl of a mother,
put on, hey, bride of a groom,
she belongs to her mother till the doorstep,
but she belongs to her man all her life.
(Bulgarian folklore, Kostadin Dinchev, Blagoevgrad 1999)
Each moment till guests reach the girl’s house is accompanied with songs. When the girl goes out of her father’s house, she sings:
„ Ela se vie, previva,
moma se s roda proshtava.
-Proshtavai, maiko i tatko,
I vie bratya i sestre,
Az sya sam bila pri vaze,
Ot sya natatak pri svekar,
Pri svekar i pri svekarva,
Pri zalvi i deveri.”
“Fir is twisting,
girl says goodbye to her family.
-Sorry, mother and father,
you too, brothers and sisters,
I were with you,
But from now on I’ll be with my father-in-law,
Father-in-law and mother-in-law,
Sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law.”
(”The traditional wedding in the village of Pirin”, Lyubimka Bisserova)
The wedding goes on with songs, “furuglitsa”, the brother-in-law, music and sisters-in-law – “horo”dancers. The wedding goes till the house of the boy along with “horo”. There, the bride is met by the mother-in-law, who has covered a white cloth. People sing:
„Dve slantsa iogrele
na momini dvore,
dur i na momkove.
de odi i plache,
ya pa momkovata
de odi i pee:
- Bozhe, mili Bozhe,
snaa ke dokaram,
otmena ke vidam. “
“Two suns shined,
on girl’s yard,
on boy’s yard, too.
walks and cries,
walks and sings:
- God, Dear God,
I will bring a daughter-in-law,
she will help me.”
(”The traditional wedding in the village of Pirin”, Lyubimka Bisserova)