The Busojaras is an annual celebration of the Sokci in Hungary. It is held during Carnival season in February and lasts for approximately 6 days, ending the day before Ash Wednesday. This festival is celebrated by wearing the traditional mask, and the festivities include folk music, masquerading, parades and dancing. The Buso festival is similar to the Rio Carnival, the Carnival of Venice, and also with the traditions of African tribes. It is also a celebration of the Croats living in the Mohacs.
The Carnival is related to two different legends. According to the most popular legend, during the Ottoman times, people from Mohacs fled town and started living near swamps and woods to avoid the Turkish troops. One night while they were sitting and talking around the fire, an old Sokac man appeared from nowhere and told them not to be afraid as they will be able to return home soon. He instructed them to prepare for battle, put on masks and wait for a stormy night till a masked knight comes to them. The refugees followed those orders and few days later, on a stormy night, the knight arrived. The people put their masks back on and made as much noise as possible, as instructed by the knight. The Turks were so frightened by the noise, they thought demons were about to attack them. They ran away before sunrise! In a less popular version, the ‘busos’ scared away not the Turks but Winter itself! In any case, Busojaras is celebrated by the locals in early February every year and even host guest Buso teams from neighboring countries like Croatia, Serbia and Poland.
The celebration features Busos (people wearing traditional masks) and includes folk music, masquerading, parades and dancing. The Busos are frightening, devil-like creatures wearing horned wooden masks and big sheepskin costumes who attempt to scare away winter and welcome spring. Arriving in rowboats on the Danube, they take to the streets making noise with cowbells and wooden noisemakers, bidding farewell to winter. Helpers known as ‘Jankeles’ keep the people (especially children) away from the Busos.
If you’re planning to attend this festival you need to dress accordingly. Master Buso mask maker Engelbert Antal believes, the Buso’s mask isn’t to simply change his outer appearance - instead, it is to alter the person behind the mask. Hence masks are crafted specifically for each buso. Male busos usually wear traditional sheepskin cloak
, women’s wool stockings under men’s pants and a carved monster mask. Woolen stockings are part of a carnival pagan
tradition embracing duality of male and female. Female busos typically dress up as female Ottoman Turks. All rules are ignored and everything is permitted, so it tends to become quite unruly, so be careful out there.
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