Kukeri and Wilder Mann
Pagan Costumes of Europe

When you take a look at cultures from around the world, you see more similarities than differences. Case in point – while the west has often characterized rituals that involve masks, animal and supernatural costumes as being in the realm of “tribal” peoples, it is ignoring its own tribal roots, which are alive and well in many parts of Europe today. In most of Europe, there are traditions involving elaborate costumes that celebrate pre-Christian holidays and beliefs. While in the “New World,” Christianity and Walmart have been pretty much successful at whitewashing/eradicating any mention or celebration of “pagan” traditions from mainstream society, in European countries with centuries and millennia of history to reflect on, the practices are still alive. For example, the Krampus gatherings and parades in the Austrian Alps, the Bulgarian Kukeri festivals, New Year’s Day celebrations in Poland with the Macidulas or in Germany with the Wilder Mann, or the Festival of Bears in France. All of these and more involve community participation in pre-Christian traditions celebrating Nature, the solstices and humans’ place in the cycle of life, and many of the costumes worn would be at home alongside an anthropological exploration of First Nations’ traditional costumes or those found in tribal African societies. Organized Christianity occupied the territories and destroyed the traditions of people the world over, but has twisted history to make certain people believe themselves more “civilized” than others. But these pictures are clear evidence of the commonality of the human experience, and shows that greed and thirst for power are at the root of our separation from one another.
For more info:
Wild Men of Europe
Alp Demons
Kukeri Festival
Kukeri Festival 2


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The Author

Meghan

Meghan

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation webzine and clothing.