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Busó Festivities at Mohács: Masked End-of-Winter Carnival Custom

15. 8. 2014


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The busó [boosho] festivities at Mohács are an end-of-winter custom performed by persons in special masks as a ritual aiming to expel winter. The main features are the busós – frightening-looking figures wearing wooden masks and big woolly cloaks. This line of events, now a festival of national renown, includes a parade accompanied by dance and music attracting the entire population of the city, the busó groups, the craftsmen/women who created the masks and other accessories as well as musicians and dancers. These traditional festivities have been inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the UNESCO in 2009.

Locality Mohács, the Baranya county Hungary
Time From Thursday of the Carnival week to Pancake Tuesday
History (cyclicality) Annually, over a 100-year-old tradition
Organizer Local government
Realisation team Locals and also ’guest Busó teams’ from Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia and Poland
Target group Locals and visitors
Traditional culture elements The symbolic aim of the event is to scare away winter – all traditional culture elements represent this. Making noise (with rattlers and cowbells), masked figures, parades and dancing are common features of carnival customs worldwide. Specific elements of the custom in Mohács are the main characters: the busós, frightening-looking figures wearing hand-carved wooden masks and big woolly cloaks.
Ethnographic criterion Originally this was a custom of the local ’sokác‘ (Croatian) minority. The event gradually turned into a tradition of the whole local community, becoming a symbol of Mohács. Now it is a big festival attracting a large number of tourists.
Environmental criterion No conflict
Cultural-historical criterion Traditional phenomena with over a 100-year-old tradition.
Aesthetic criterion Traditional carved wooden masks and pieces of clothing are used, which are handed down from generation to generation.
Ethical criterion There is no ethical problem
Psychological criterion Within the city, busós conglomerate into various groups which function as active communities throughout the year and maintain close personal relationships in everyday life. All of this generates a powerful sense of identity within the community which is confirmed by continued preparation, maintenance of the masks, clothes and accessories.

Photos by © Zsolt Szilágyi

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