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A MYSTERY?... IS THE BULGARIAN FOLKLORE INDEED A MYSTERY? THE EFFECT OF THE GOLDEN VOICES OF THE BULGARIAN POLYPHONY IS INCREDIBLE. THE MUSIC SOUNDS HERE AND NOW, BUT SEEMS TO BE COMINIG FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE HEART AND TO HAVE BRIDGED OVER THE ABYSM OF TIME... AT THE CLOSE OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY THE WORLD HAS TURNED BACK TO ITS ROOTS IN ORDER TO LOOK FOR THE KEY TO THAT BULGARIAN TREASURE, TO ERASE THE PATINA FROM IT, TO FIND THE CLUE TO IT AND TO INCORPORATE IT WITH THE INTRANSIENT WONDERS OF THE THOUSAND-YEARS-OLD HUMAN CIVILIZATION.

CHRISTMAS STAR

THE CHRISTMAS CAROLS in this album are a reflection of what has been experienced during a year which is passing away, or of what is in store for us in the coming one. There is also in them that magic of the hope, of the night which separates the past from the future.

THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST is the birth of hope. Devoted to it are the fabulous conventions of the feast, the divinations and the magic rituals. All the prescribed rites during that night – from the breaking of the flat bread to keeping the fire in the hearth burning the whole night through – are associated with the dearest wishes and good intentions of those present, as much elevated as they are earthly.

Christmas Eve is the enchanting time when ordinary objects acquire a particular significance. The wooden plough is treated with due respect by being allowed "to attend" the festive supper. The Yule-log, called "budnik", is brought into the house, decorated with a white sheet of cloth for, as the ritual song has it, this is the small tree which will grow high up to the sky in order that "the young God" may come down it and bring a rich crop, good health and a merry mood. This is a blessed evening when we are allowed to invite even God to share our meal. How? By addressing Him with kind words and raising a large ring-shaped bun to the sky. Or simply by taking the meal outside in the courtyard.

THE CAROLLERS, those eagerly awaited and welcomed by everyone guests, come in that same night before dawn to say their good wishes, to get their share of the gifts and sing their songs of praise to the hosts. These heralds of the good news have a rich stock of a traditional repertory, but also their special verses for each household, all sparkling with the charm of their resourcefulness.

The ritual tradition allows for another unique opportunity during that night: in the cosy home atmosphere to ask for a garland of carols for each one of the family members: for a girl, a young man, a kid, or for the trade of the hosts. There are among the leading carollers those with a stock of songs which could be compared to an inexhaustible source. And only the drawing-nigh break of the day could drop the curtain to that musical act at home. They say that the most venerable carollers were keeping alive in their memory more than eighty songs. It is to that wealth that I would like to humbly add my own songs as well, in the spirit of the Christmas tradition.

MY OWN SONGS, INCLUDED IN THIS ALBUM, ARE A KALEIDOSCOPIC PRESENTATION OF AN ETHNOPSYCHOLOGY, REFLECTED IN THE SPOKEN-AND-MUSICAL FOLKLORE. AT THE SAME TIME HERE ARE ALSO MY PERSONAL EVERYDAY EXPERIENCES, MY APOSTROPHES, JOKES, ACCENTS AND REPARTEES, ADDRESSED TO MY OWN SELF-PORTRAIT WHICH IS NEITHER TOO BLACK, NOR IDEALLY BRIGHT, BUT RATHER A MOTLEY ONE, LIKE THE VICISSITUDES OF HISTORY WHICH WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH.

Special thanks to the National Palace of Culture, GI-Print Ltd, Vichra Dimitrova, PUL•CD, and Svetoslav Piperov.
On the Cover: Vassil Stoilov, "Bulgarian Madonna"
DRAGOSTIN FOLK NATIONAL
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

STEFAN DRAGOSTINOV PRESENTS
THE KEY TO THE MYSTERY
Volume Six
Christmas Star