St. Peter's Day
Date: June 26th
On June 29th and 30th, the church honors the memory of the two apostles of Christ - Peter and Pavel. Traditionally, early in the morning, women bring ritual bread and early apples, known as "petrovki," to the church, which are blessed by the priest and believed to bring health. The holiday is also associated with protection against fires, thunderstorms, and hailstorms. St. Peter's Day coincides with the strongest period of economic life in Bulgaria, and a rooster is sacrificed as an offering. It is believed that the rooster is a heavenly sun symbol that measures time and is a symbol of resurrection. The bird is a symbol of fertility and the birth of new life, which is why it is also used in wedding customs. Traditionally, on St. Peter's Day, people work during the first half of the day, and then there are village gatherings, where a communal feast is held, songs are sung, and dances are performed. People with names like Peter, Paul, Kamen, Petya, Pavlina, and Polina celebrate this holiday in a special way.
The Yalova wedding is a masquerade repetition of moments from a real traditional wedding, but the roles (especially that of the bride) are played by men in disguise. The ritual is connected with the ancient beliefs in our lands about cross-dressing and the so-called ritual transvestism, the exchange of sexes, and the connection with the common male-female principle of creation. In the past, women were not allowed to participate in the ritual, but today it is possible
Saint Archangel Michael
Date: 8th November
Saint Archangel Michael is a symbol of the triumph of good, light, and justice. He is the bearer of the power that makes people better. According to popular belief, the saint is honest and compassionate. In many parts of Bulgaria, on November 8th, on Archangel Michael's Day, a sacrificial animal is slaughtered for the saint and ritual bread is made. Wheat is distributed, which everyone takes with both hands to ensure abundance and is called: "As many grains as piles of health."
At traditional village gatherings in Bulgaria, Archangel Michael's Day is celebrated with a communal feast. Archangel Michael is a defender of faith and a fighter against evil. On icons, he is depicted with a fiery sword in his hand or with a spear that strikes the devil. Everyone who bears the names: Angel, Angelina, Archangel, Gabriel, Mila, Milen, Michaela, Plamen, Radoslava, Rayna, Ruska, and others, solemnly welcomes the holiday.
Date: October 26th
"When Dimitrovday comes, so does the snow" - this is what Bulgarians say according to folklore. This day is dedicated to Saint Dimitar, who is the patron saint of cold and snow. At midnight on the holiday, it is believed that the sky opens up and the first snowflakes fall from the white beard of the saint.
On Dimitrovday (October 26th), farmers observe the moon. If the moon is full, they believe that the beehives will be full of honey and the sheep pens will be full of lambs. On this day, peasants carefully observe the behavior of their livestock to predict what the winter will be like - cold, snowy, or rainy.
The table on Dimitrovden is rich and includes stewed rooster, sacrificial lamb, and apple pie. According to folklore, the so-called "Mouse Holidays" begin on Dimitrovden. Women do not do any women's work - they do not spin, weave, or sew - so as not to anger the mice and cause them to eat everything that has been worked on throughout the year. Men, on the other hand, do not remove any grain from the barn or plow any corn, but only smear the barn, thresholds, and corners with mud, believing that they are blinding the eyes of the mice.
Date: There is no specific date for the custom, but it is most commonly performed after the harvest.
A masquerade tradition is observed in the villages around Shumen, among the Muslim ethnic groups there (Sunni and Shiite). The "SayaDjalar" tradition is a calendar-based male tradition that is practiced in Bulgaria in the autumn, after the harvest (harvesting of crops such as corn or grapes). An indefinite number of boys - aged 15-20 years old - participate in the tradition and games.
The ritual games associated with the "SayaDjalar" tradition are a combination of rhythm, sound, and colorful nuances in the clothing. The participants move with specific steps and wear costumes that correspond to magical messages. In front of each house, the "SayaDjalars" line up in a semicircle, strike the ground hard with forks strung with tufts, and make a huge noise. Then, they give blessings to the owners of the house.
The tradition almost completely disappeared by the end of the 20th century, but there are currently active attempts to restore the games and the tradition itself, although it is mainly done for theatrical purposes. The attitude of young people today has changed, and the emphasis is mainly on the carnival and fun part of the tradition.
Date: December 20th
The Christian Christmas holidays begin with Ignazhday. This is the day when the memory of Saint Ignatius the God-Bearer is honored, celebrated on December 20th. On this day, the first Christmas dinner is held, which is completely fasting. The holiday is associated with many beliefs and rituals. In folk beliefs, it is considered the beginning of the Dirty Days (from Ignazhden to Epiphany) and the transition from the old to the new year. In different parts of the country, the holiday is also called Young Year, New Day, Young Month, Polaz or Polazovden.
According to Christian beliefs, the birth pangs of the Virgin Mary begin on Ignazhden, which continue until Christmas Eve. The days during this period are called "Machnitsi". Women are not supposed to do any household chores during this time in order to conceive and give birth easily.
Ignazhden is the day when the tradition of "polazvane" is observed. On this day, it is important who enters the house first. People believed that if this person is good and has really brought them prosperity, they must invite him again to come to their home next year. The customs on this day have a ritual orientation - to ward off evil spirits and ensure a healthy and happy year.
Date: December 6th
Nikulday is one of the biggest family-oriented holidays, dedicated to St. Nicholas - the patron saint of the seas, sailors, and fishermen. The traditional dish prepared for this day is the fish stew, made with fish and spices. While cleaning the fish, women take care not to let any scales fall on the ground, so as not to get sick and die. The bone from the fish head, which resembles a cross, is kept as a remedy against children's illnesses. The table is set with fasting dishes, as well as special breads such as parakliz, sluzhba, bogov, and kolakilinikulski bread. The table for Nikulden is not cleared all day, and the family gathers around it, singing ritual songs. According to tradition, St. Nicholas saves a boat from sinking by plugging the hole with a carp. That's why this fish is the main dish, along with fasting delicacies such as stuffed cabbage leaves, peppers, beans, and corn. The dance that is performed is called "sglyadno" because unmarried girls participate in it. The saint is the protector of families and lineages.
St. Peter's Day
Date: June 26th
On June 29th and 30th, the church honors the memory of the two apostles of Christ - Peter and Paul. Traditionally, early in the morning, women bring ritual bread and early apples, known as "petrovki," to the church, which are blessed by the priest and believed to bring health. The holiday is also associated with protection against fires, lightning, and hailstorms. St. Peter's Day coincides with the busiest period of economic life in Bulgaria, and a rooster is sacrificed as an offering. The rooster is considered a heavenly sun sign that measures time and is a symbol of resurrection. The bird is a sign of fertility and the birth of new life, which is why it is also used in wedding customs. Traditionally, on St. Peter's Day, people work in the first half of the day, and then there are gatherings in the villages, with a communal table set up, songs sung, and dances danced. People with names like Peter, Paul, Kamen, Petya, Pavlina, and Polina specially celebrate this holiday.
In the middle of August, Kyustendil celebrates "Panagia - lifting of the bread." The festival takes place from August 13-15. On August 15, the church celebrates the "Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God" or "Great Mother of God." This unique festival is associated with the spiritual culture of the Orthodox population in the Kyustendil region.
The tradition is not just a tribute to the essence and symbol of the birth of life, but also a magnificent ritual in which the kneading of the bread - from harvesting, through the nights, to the oven - is passed on with heart and love from mothers and grandmothers to daughters and granddaughters - just like the beauty of inspiration.
Date: Eighth day before Easter
Lazaruvane is a movable date and is celebrated one week before Easter. It is a celebration in honor of the fields, pastures, and forests. The Lazaritsa ritual is cheerful and poetic, connected with the spring awakening of nature, with hopes and dreams for prosperity and marriage for young unmarried girls.
This tradition embodies the idea of providing fertility and health. Lazaritsas are traditionally unmarried girls, dressed in their most beautiful traditional attire and adorned with rich decorations on their heads, presenting themselves to society as ready for marriage. In the past, there was a belief that a girl who did not participate in Lazaruvane could not get married.
Date: June 24th
On the night of June 24th, when the Sun dies and is reborn, the healing power of plants reaches its peak. This is the moment when herbs such as blackthorn, yarrow, St. John's wort, chamomile, cornflower, lemon balm, and others are gathered for use in healing throughout the year. On Enyovden, they have the greatest magical power, which then gradually diminishes. The gathered herbs are woven into a wreath, which is used for healing and magical purposes. On this day, no work is done, and the custom of Enyova Bulya is performed, in which only 7-8 year old girls participate. They are believed to be able to predict the future. Enyovden is also known as the Day of Magic, when both good and bad magic can be performed. This day is suitable for various rituals, including those against fear, curses or illnesses. The gathered herbs have a protective role, and the ritual bathing cleanses the body and spirit of the people.
Date: July 20th
Ilininday(July 20th) is one of the holidays that protects against thunder and hail. According to popular belief, the saint is the patron of the celestial elements and rains. In the mountainous regions of southern Bulgaria, it is usually celebrated very ceremoniously. Village gatherings and communal sacrifices are organized, with a bull (ram, ox) being offered as a sacrifice. Strict work prohibition is observed. In other regions, a sacrifice is made from the oldest rooster in honor of the saint and bread is baked. The table is smoked by the eldest member of the family. The communal meal is arranged outside the village on high ground or under ancient oak trees. Ilininden is a holiday of tanners, furriers, saddlers, and roofers. On this day, Iliya, Iliyana, Ilko, and Ilka are celebrated. The ritual of "chasing the snake" is performed on Ilininden. All healthy and strong men gather exactly at midnight and hold sticks in their hands. They walk around the houses, yards, and fields in complete silence, waving their sticks, hitting the doors, fences, and walls, and poking the hay. It is believed that this will drive away the snake that has brought the drought. The owners of the houses do not lock their doors, but leave them open instead.