Day of Forgiveness…


Only Bulgarians Celebrate the Day of Forgiveness…

ссToday is the Day of Forgiveness in Bulgaria the last Sunday before the Great Lent starts. Forgiveness is an easy thing when you have not done anything wrong but a very serious business when you might have done — intentionally or not — things that might have hurt others.

Bulgarians observe Sunday a self-styled traditional ‘Forgiveness Day‘ on which everyone asks everyone tl,xlo forgive his or her misdeeds over the passed year.

The holiday is observed on a Sunday, exactly seven weeks before Easter, and is also called Sirni Zagovezni. That name refers to the fact that one is allowed to eat milk products, the day being located within the Easter Fast. Sirni Zagovezni is also considered a preparation for the Great Lent.

kukeriIn some parts of the country the forgiveness day is also associated with the manifestly pagan kukeri dance, in which men dressed like demons try to chase evil spirits away.

The most typical tradition connected to that day is starting the feast fires. Right from the very dawn, a Koukeri band starts its walk around everybody’s home. By means of various symbolic and ritual-magic actions, they are wishing health, land fertility and prosperity to the hosts.
kukeri1 At Shrove Sunday, the spirit gets purged by the forgiveness given and asked for, the body gets stronger if the person manages to jump over the fire, and the nature sends away evil forces by the ringing of the Koukeri bells. The dance of those masked men brings blessing and land fertility. A Kouker young woman (also called “bride”) starts ploughing the field and calls fertility, health and good luck to come into people’s houses…

There is a delightful Bulgarian tradition on this Day of Forgiveness to play a game in which the children try to catch a hard-boiled egg suspended on a string from a rod while using mouths only and no hands. It was one of those dear childhood memories that brought unrestrained laughter into my family.

Now I am at New York, USA, 5805,53 miles away from my beloved Bulgaria, my lovely parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and my amazing sister, but that won’t stop me of celebrate this day with my husband and friends. :)

Hope you all, will find this tradition interesting and you all, will forgive your friends and family too, for everything they have been wrong during 2013. Any thoughts on this great Bulgarian tradition are welcome… :)

*** For more information on Sirni Zagovezni or the Day of Forgiveness you can read this amazing article – HERE!

Category: Moral | 3 Comments »

Chestita Baba Marta or Happy Baba Marta!


babHey! Today’s the 1st of March.

That can only mean one thing: throughout the day everyone in Bulgaria will be happily exchanging martenitsi and wishing each other Happy Baba Marta or in Bulgarian Chestita Baba Marta. I love this tradition. I’ve never seen another holiday in Bulgaria that produces such joy throughout the day. I love it a lot in fact. Last year I gave to my friends and family more then a 100 martenitsi.

However it’s not just the martenitsi that make me like this holiday so much. Before I tell you why I love this holiday and especially the red and white boy and girl Piju and Panda, so cute, let me tell you more about the folklore behind the holiday!

babamartacopy b m 2

There are various theories and suggestions (even several legends, involving real historical figures) about the symbolism of these two particular colors – red & white, from which Martenitsa are made. An obvious explanation and perhaps a common belief people share, is that “red” stands for “life/birth” and “white” denotes “anew/on clear grounds”. Combined together, they mean “newborn”, “rebirth”, “a new beginning”; a celebration of Life and Survival. Another popular explanation is that white stands for wisdom and red for good health, which means that anyone giving you a Martenitsa is wishing you both throughout the new year.

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The tradition of the red and white woven strings that we exchange supposedly dates back to the times of Khan Asparuh. For those of you not up on our Bulgarian history, Khan Asparuh is the man who is credited with the establishment of the first Bulgarian empire and the martenitsi. He was a busy man. Rumor has it he tied two strings one red and one white to his falcon after a battle to signal to his wife that he was still alive. The tradition was born from this…

Story of Baba Marta….

bmaaIn folklore, Baba Marta is presented as a sister or a wife of the great long-horned beetle (January) and the small long-horned beetle (February). She is always dissatisfied with them – They are either drunk on wine, or they do other harm . The old woman (bride) becomes angry, hence the weather breaks. According to a widespread story, an old shepherd gave rise to her flock in the mountains last March days, thinking that Baba Marta will bestow on her a good time because she is as old as her. Baba Marta became angry and asked her brother (April) to borrow her a few days. April granted her wish and these days are called “borrowed days”, “zaemnitsi”, “few days” in folk tradition. Martha let the strong snows and blizzards that froze the shepherd and her flock in the mountains. Frozen become a pile of rocks that flowed healing…

You can read more about this special Bulgarian tradition at Wikipedia!

Video!  How to make a basic martenitsa click here!

me b m 1I feel pretty special wearing my first martenitsi! Hope you are staying warm in your homes, and for all our sakes, I hope the weather stays warm! :)

May spring find you sooner than later wherever you are.

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