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Winter holidays and observances in Bulgaria

Winter holidays and observances in Bulgaria  are very interesting, rooted in the deep past of  the country  and are filled with ancient rites that aim to influence positively the future and the  life.

These holidays are still being celebrated 

St Andrew's Day (30th of November ): It is believed that from this moment  the day begins to grow as much as a bean grain, which is connected with the ritual practice on the eve of this feast to brew different grains - wheat, peas, corn, beans, lentils and others to infuse.

St.Nicholas day (6th of  December) - It is dedicated to St. Nicholas, who is revered as the deliverer of the captives and the patron saint of sailors, travelers, merchants and bankers. The tradition of the festive are fish dishes, most often filled with carp walnuts.

On this day, flowers and wreaths are thrown into the sea or rivers in memory of the fallen fishermen and sailors.

Christmas (December 25) -  Christmas  is one of the greatest Christian feasts. On it, Christians celebrate the birth of the Son of God-Jesus Christ. Throughout the week before Christmas young boys dressed in folk costumes go around the houses and sing for the health and well-being of the family. Christmas is a family holiday that gathers families together. On the evening of 24 December, 5 ,7 or 9 dishes are served on the table. The main dish on December 25 is pork meat, sarmi and banitsa.

St. Vasil's day (January 1) -It  is a Bulgarian people's celebration marking the beginning of the new calendar year. 

St Joan's day or Holy Baptism (January 6) - On this day the ritual throwing of the cross in the water from the local church. After the removal of the cross, a solemn liturgy, called Great Water, was held. It renews the holy water in the temples. Everybody brings it home. It protects against diseases and purifies the soul.

St. Ivan's day (January 7th) - According to the popular belief, St.Ivan is the feast of the newlyweds and friends. The families who have married during the  last year are celebrating.

Babinden or Maternity Day (January 8). "Babiden" is one of the greatest  female feast dedicated to the "grandmothers" - the women who helped  at birth and the young women who gave birth. The ritual of this day is mainly due to the desire to witness respect   for the elderly women who helped during the delivery.

St. Anthony's day (January 17th), St. Atanas's day (January 18th). In Bulgarian folklore, St. Anthony and St. Atanas are closely connected - two brothers are believed to be blacksmiths. In the popular beliefs, St. Atanas is represented as the ruler of the snow and ice. It is believed that from this day onwards the winter begins to go.

Petlyovden (Cock Day) (February 2) - "Petlyovden" is connected with the Turkish slavery and the gathering of the heaviest for our people tax - the blood tax, the taking of young boys for the Turkish army. On this day celebrate the parents of boys and cook a cock for health.

St. Trifon's day (14 February) - Trifon Zarezan (or Vineyard Day) is a Bulgarian observance in honor of Saint Trifon. It is celebrated by wine-growers, falcons, gardeners. This is a labor custom associated with the first economic process in the annual cycle of vines processing - the spring incineration.

Baba Marta / March 1 /. This is the first spring feast in honor of the renewal of nature. On this day everyone is wearing and giving "martenitsas" - in white and red colours  for health and well-being. The martenitsa is worn until the first stork appears. When they see a stork, people hook martenitsas on a fruit tree.