Party On The Hill

I’m sitting here in a haze. It’s the aftermath of 6th May St George’s Day celebrations: I still can’t hear properly from being just feet away from the massive stack of speakers yesterday, my hips are aching from all the dancing, my voice is hoarse after trying to shout over the diddly-diddly music and the thought of another snifter of rakia is somewhat unappealing right now.

But Shesti Mai, what a party! It could easily be described as Christmas Day for the gypsy community – and what a great way to do it. OK, so it involves dragging the entire contents of the kitchen up the hill, including tables, chairs, benches, crockery, cutlery, salads, banitsa – not forgetting the obligatory roast lamb and rakia. Once you’ve set yourselves up however, you get to sing, dance, chat and party with the rest of NovoP. A giant village gathering outdoors, every generation and creed laughing together in one place, enjoying the sunshine, against the stunning backdrop of the Strandzha forest.

How did they cook all those lambs? Not many have an oven big enough to fit a whole lamb in, so this is where the old bakery – now Terzieva Kushta – comes into its own. Overseen by the oven’s ‘maestro’, Mitko and family lit the fire a couple of days ago, stoked it up to 350 degrees (check out the maestro looking at the thermometer with a match in the porthole), ready for 46 lambs to go through the system.

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Although we can still hear strains of gypsy music floating down from the top of the hill, we’re getting back to normal at home. St George’s Day celebrations usually herald the beginning of summer proper, so watch this space for news on garden planting with summer crops…


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