Bulgarian folkolore - traditions bulgarians
Ivanovden/St. John the Baptist’s Day (7 January). The name Ivan (John) means “God’s blessing”. On this day all people celebrating their name day and bridegrooms are poured with water for health’s sake. According to an old tradition on this holiday the one-time brides and bridegrooms pay a visit to their sponsors.
Babinden/Midwifes’ Day (8 January). Babinden is a holiday of the midwives, young mothers and grandmothers who helped during the delivery of the children in the past. On this day the elderly women-midwives used to tour around all homes where they had assisted in childbirth. They washed the children and smeared honey on their foreheads for health’s sake.
Antonovden/St. Anthony’s Day (17 January). The name Anton means “invaluable”. On this day no pulses are cooked to avoid illnesses. Women give away small round loaves smeared with honey. No work is done for health’s sake.
Atanasovden/St. Athanasius’s Day (18 January). The name Atanas means “immortal”. 18 January is also a holiday of the blacksmiths, iron mongers and cutlers. On this day small round loaves are given away and soup from a black hen is cooked for health’s sake. The feathers of the sacrificed fowl are kept and they have healing power.
Petlyovden/Rooster’s Day (20 January). On this holiday mothers butcher a young rooster for the sake of the boys’ health or a young hen for the sake of the girls’ sake.
Baba Marta/Grandma March (1 March). Baba Marta is one of the most observed Bulgarian customs. The first martenisti were simply woven red and white threads. In the course of time even more original martenitsi have been created – balls, tassels, the incomparable “Pizho and Penda”, etc. On this day everyone wears a martenitsa in order to be healthy and strong in the next year.
Kukeri/Mummers (March, the week separating the second Sunday before Lent and the first Sunday before Lent). В Mostly men participate in the Mummers’ games. These games aim at chasing away the evil spirits and fairies through special magical dances and frightening masks, so that there will be rich harvest next year.
Easter (April, the Sunday before the first spring full moon). The preparation for this holiday begins as early as Thursday. It is then that the eggs are painted, with the red egg being painted first. The Easter bread is also baked then. The holiday itself starts on Sunday morning. People go to church and greet the others with “Christ has risen” and reply “Indeed he has”. The families pay each other visits and exchange Easter eggs, and meals that have been forbidden during the long Easter Lent are present on the table.
Lazaruvane/St. Lazar’s Day (April, the penultimate Sunday before the Holy week). The celebration is a nice spring custom, which precedes Palm Sunday. The young women, dressed up in colourful attire, go round all houses. They sing for the ploughman, the shepherd, the blooming spring and to wish health in every home, as well as prosperity during the year.
On Palm Sunday the maidens and other eligible young women go to the river and drop willow branches down the river. The young girl whose wreath comes first out of the water is chosen for “kumitsa” (leader) of the celebrating young women. “Kumitsa” treats the celebrating young women and the holiday ends in dances and entertainment.
Nestinarstvo/Fire-dancing (21 May). On this holiday fire is started on the square. The fire dancers go round the houses in the village until the fire runs high, accompanied by drums and bagpipes, to chase away the illnesses and also carry with them the Ss. Constantine and Helena icon.
After that the female fire dancers go one by one into the glowing embers to the specific rhythm of the fire-dancing music. They dance no more than two minutes. It is believed that the more fire-dancers go into the fire to dance, the greater the harvest will be.