If Only the Young Were Wise Enough, If Only the Old Were Strong Enough Cover Image
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If Only the Young Were Wise Enough, If Only the Old Were Strong Enough

The Concept of Age in the Bulgarian Folklore Culture

Author(s): Diana Radoynova
Subject(s): Anthropology, Social Sciences, Customs / Folklore, Cultural Anthropology / Ethnology
Published by: Пловдивски университет »Паисий Хилендарски«
Keywords: age; lifetime; memories
Summary/Abstract: The concept of age viewed as a lifetime through which one builds memories, remembrances and competence is a largely unexplored area in the Bulgarian ethnology. Age in the traditional culture depends much more on a person’s social status than on the number of years they have lived. Moreover, in the folklore world one could paradoxically grow up over a night following certain changes in their social status. That particular understanding, typical for the traditional Bulgarian culture, has generated a complicated system of relationships, contradictions and substitutions such as young – old, strong – weak, able – unable, competent - incompetent, ignorant – wise. Possessing one of the above characteristics usually excludes its opposite i.e. being young you are strong but ignorant, being old you are wise but weak; being a child you are carefree but have no rights, etc. In the contradiction between the biologically inevitable old age and the culturally credited wisdom, a person is both an achiever and a loser because one can have the best of the two, but at different moments in their lifetime.