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The Frozen Dance

Hi folks! Today I’d like to point your attention to this tradition which we celebrate here in Bulgaria every Jan 6, which is Jordan’s Day (we’re very fond of our name days, they almost have the status and weight of birthdays; it’s always nice to have twice as many reasons to drink and celebrate, right?) The ritual follows an old tradition probably predating (but bearing obvious parallels to) Epiphany – or Twelfth Day as it’s known – and all Christianity, rooting back to the ages of the Thracians who lived around these places in Roman times. The dance is called “horo“, a traditional feature of every Balkan feast, where people line up and make a series of elaborate steps in rhythm with the music.

This particular one is a bit special though, because it marks the beginning of the coldest season by… plunging the “horo” into the frozen waters of a small river! It’s done exceptionally by men (for understandable physiological reasons), and it’s meant to send wishes to the God(s?) for health and prosperity throughout the new year. First the leader of the horo goes in to break the ice, then the drummers enter and start the rhythm, and the rest follow, normally by order of seniority. The whole thing lasts for about 10 minutes, and is preceded and then followed by feasts, eating a lot of meat and of course drinking a lot of wine and rakia. Anyway, behold the weirdness!

(Warning! Do not try this at home without proper preparation! And by that, I do mean industrial amounts of alcohol conveniently infused into your blood system!)

This horo is from the small mountain town of Kalofer, home to legendary revolutionaries, and considered part of the historical heartland of the country. The ritual has been there for many years, and it has been attracting ever growing crowds each year.

This of course brings us to the next local tradition, the Kukeri, an even more ancient tradition which we talked about a while ago.

Whoever Has Been In The Military, Will Know

I don’t know how it is at your place, but where I live, the military hasn’t been known for their particular intelligence. In fact, they’ve become a synonym of dumbness. There’s also a local saying that if you’re good for no other job, then your place is in the military. It’s largely viewed as a place where people waste their time doing nothing important, and where those in more influential positions are able to make petty, small-scale misappropriation of state resources without getting caught. And the dumbest of all military personnel are the top officers. The dumber you are, the higher up the ladder you’re likely to end up.

Naturally, dumb heads bear dumb thoughts, and hence, dumb statements. So here’s a collection of dumb statements coming from military officers, some of which have become part of the local lore (these are actual words, recorded and collected at various times from various places by various military personnel).

– Either everyone puts greatcoats on, or nobody does! This is an order!

– Wake-up time is 5 a.m., no matter what time of the day it is!

– Military training exists in other countries as well, including foreign countries.

– Everyone jump into the trenches! The rest, follow me!

– Look at that guy. He’s sitting around like a swine in the warm mud.

– What is this? Your formation resembles the letter… well, there’s no such letter, comrades!

– And remember, the battalion commander never walks by foot. He either takes a GAZ-66 truck, or he takes the deputy commander with him.

– While on the march, every soldier has a ration of 20 grams of butter daily: 15 grams for breakfast and 15 for supper.

– You guys are sleeping comfortably here, and in the meantime, the Fatherland is getting covered in snow out there!

– The alpha, beta and gama rays from a nuclear explosion cannot penetrate your uniform. They’d go through your furcoat at most, but they can only reach as far as your under-vest, and no further!

– What? You’ve been where? To the toilet? Come on lads, next is, you’re gonna start visiting the theater or something!

– Cleaning the AK47 can be done against cardboard targets of a square shape, made of black paper, with a size of 20 by 30 centimeters.

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– And now, if you may excuse me, I’m going to leak some water and drink some of the same.

– The sirens are yelling, there are alarm rings everywhere, and you’re doing what? You’re in the bathroom, pants down, weiner sticking out, and you’re peeing and peeing without end.

– Now I expect you guys to go to bed culturally and literately.

– My surname is Major Ivanov.

– Hey, you! What are you doing in the TV room? – We are watching a video, Sir! – And why is the TV on?

– A forest is considered impassable for tanks, if the thickness of the trees exceeds the tank’s weight more than three times.

– A Major never runs, because in peace time, a running Major would cause laughter, and in war time, panic.

– The AK47 works like this: one, two, three… and you’re gone!

– Hey, cadet! Stop giving yourself smart looks! You’re a future officer, remember?

– Say, there are N planes flying in a formation. Nah, not N. That’s too many. OK, let’s say there are K planes flying in a formation…

– Do not force me to deprive your future kids of fathers!

– Sergeant, Sir! My bed sheet has holes in it! – Well, maggot, just turn it upside down!

– Quick! Shovel that snow quickly, before it has melted away!

– Yesterday I checked under all your beds. Frankly, it’s beyond me how you guys can live down there…

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– Can someone remind me who that cadet was whom I remembered in the morning?

– You don’t have to wash all corridors daily. Once every morning would suffice.

– A trench is an open pit designed for sleeping in conditions that approximate those during battle.

– Sergeant, Sir! There’s a hole in my boot! There’s water getting in! – How many times do I have to teach you, maggot? Just punch another one on the other side, and the water will go out!

– So, guys, you shouldn’t worry about working near sources of radiation. It’s perfectly safe. For example, some navy officers stay in nuclear submarines for years, and in the meantime, their wives give birth to perfectly normal children.

– Never start the engine before you’ve boarded the vehicle!

– It appears someone has stolen one of my boots. If I see anyone with three boots tomorrow, they’re in trouble!

– Everyone shut all windows now!

– A bush is a collection of branches and leaves, all emerging from a single point in space.

– And let me reiterate. One million is written with six zeros. Half a million, with three zeros.

– Now switch off al culturally-information receivers of a luminous type and otherwise!

– Our first rule here: you may not be particularly bright, but your boots should always be shiny!

– The bullet keeps flying as long as the hot gases in the barrel keep propelling it. It falls down, as soon as the gases stop pushing it.

– Next time a bullet flies past you, make sure you’ve looked at its structure thoroughly.

– Bombs tend to fall not just on land, but also on islands.

– I forbid the use of alcohol during your leave. If someone decides to violate my order, they better drink their fill, because that’ll be their last time!

– You should bore a hole in the wall, the size of 2-3 cents.

– This paralytic gas causes a head-ache in the joints and bones.

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– Why have you grown such a huge beard, cadet? Didn’t they teach you to shave in your childhood?

– Riding on a transportation truck happens in only one possible manner: no smoking, no leaning over the carriage, no whistling after passing maids – you just sit there and ride the truck, understood?

– You have 5 minutes to perform the task. Hurry up now, soldier, there already are 4 mins 99 secs left!

– Look, we may have no order here, but it has to be followed!

– Imagine you’re situated in the middle of an empty field. Suddenly, a tank pops up from behind the corner. What are you gonna do?

– Each soldier should keep a canteen full of water in their personal drawer! One canteen of water suffices for washing one face and two feet. Whoever doesn’t have water in their canteen at day’s end, will have their canteen poured on their head by myself! Undersood?

– Cadet, why are you procrastinating? I’ve been watching you for the past half an hour how you’re dragging around the yard, hands in your pocket. A muffin in one hand, a cigarette in the other…

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– Here on this wall you should hang a picture of the famous Five RMS Heroes. They’re just ten lads, the space should suffice.

– Nobody boards the trucks before they’ve arrived, undersood?

– Never use the tongs as a hammer and viceversa!

– Now I’m going fishing. If I don’t catch anything today, you guys are in trouble!

– Whichever of you thinks they’re dumb enough to forget what I’m saying, better be writing these things down in a notebook! Look, I’ve got two notebooks!

– Hey, maggot! For the past 5 minutes I’ve been watching very carefully how you’ve been wasting half an hour!

– Sergeant, Sir! I’ve lost my needle! – How many times do I have to teach you to inscribe al your belongings!

– On three, off you trot from me to the other tree!

– Hey, who’s talking over there! I know who you are! I won’t say your name, I’m just gonna give you a very stern look!

– Whichever of you thinks they’re dumb enough to forget the lyrics of our military songs, better be writing these things down in a notebook – just like I do!

– Everybody knows that peeing is almost half as good as fucking. But peeing twice in a row is not nearly as good as fucking.

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– You’ve got one hour to whitewash the curb stone in black!

– Check if there’s anyone on guard! If there isn’t anyone, send them reinforcements!

– Turn the table-cloth the other way around to conceal the holes in it!

– Get back into formation so that the rain won’t soak you wet!

– Gather all papers, foliage, glass and stones, put them in a cardboard box, and burn them to dispose of them!

– Ye could’ve got MBA, ye could’ve got PhD, yer diploma could’be the size of a gate… but here the feckin Sergeant is God! Got it?

– There are piles of snow 3 meters deep outside, some are thigh-high!

– Have you no shame, soldier? You saw me coming, and yet you continued sleeping!

– Your mother didn’t tell you about the soldier’s food? T’was never supposed to be delicious! T’is supposed to be nutritive. The soldier’s food is not for eating – it’s for being absorbed by the soldier’s organism!

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– Lock the gate and bring me the padlock!

– Oooh, I know a thing or two about computers. Isn’t the laser computer the latest fad these days?

– Don’t look at me like that! You see me being nice right now, but I could turn things to the 360 degrees just as easily.

– You keep silent when you’re talking with me!

– So here’s a maths problem for ya. You’ve got 100 fighter jets flying, plus 200 bomber planes. 400 aircraft altogether… – But it doesn’t add up, Colonel! – I’m just using rough approximates, cadet!

– You’ve got 10 minutes to make all this rust shine as new!

– Granted, it’s a bit dark right now, so you may not be able to hear me.

– On three, everybody rush from me to the other tree and back! I’ll be following you closely.

– You’re young, you know nothing of the war. There was such a terrible meningitis at the time, you’d either die or go crazy from it. I’ve personally had it twice…