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PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
  • Jan 1- New Year's Holiday
  • March 3- Liberation Day
  • late April- Orthodox Easter
  • May 1- Labor Day
  • May 6 - St. George's day, Day of the Bulgarian Army
  • May 24- Day of Slavonic Culture
  • Sept 6- Unification Day
  • Sept 22 - Independence Day
  • Nov 1- Day of National Revival
  • Dec 24, 25, 26 - Christmas Days
JANUARY
  • 1st January - St. Vassil
    Those named Vassil and Vassilka celebrate their name day. Early in the morning young boys called 'sourvakari' perform rituals for good health and rich harvest.They go from house to house wishing people a Happy New Year. While singing traditional songs they tap their host's back with a cornel twig decorated with popcorn, peppers and wool threads of different colors.
  • 2nd January - St. Silvester
    Those named Silvester, Silvana and Silvia celebrate their name day.
  • 6th January - Bogoyavlenie (Yordanovden) Those named Yordan, Yordanka and Bogdan celebrate their name day.
    People gather near a river, lake or any other water basin. The priest performs a service, following which he throws the cross into the water. It is believed that the first person to reach the cross will be healthy and lucky throughout the forthcoming year.
  • 7th January - St. Ivan
    On this day all Bulgarians wish good health and happiness to those named Ivan, Yoan and Yoanna. As a ritual for health people dip their children in barrels full of water while the adults are only splashed with it.
  • 17th, 18th January - St. Anton and St. Atanas
    Those named Anton, Antoaneta, Atanas and Atanaska celebrate their name days. Those holidays are devoted to the animals in the house. According to tradition, either a black hen or a sheep should be slain. This ritual serves as a votive offering. Also a traditional bread with honey and basil should be distributed among the people.
  • 21st January - Babinden
    Babinden is a holiday devoted to midwives. Early in the morning on January 21st the old women, called 'babi', visit the children they have delivered. According to ritual, they have to wash the child's face. Then the mother of the child helps the midwife wash her hands and gives her a bar of soap and a towel as a gift. In the evening all midwifes sit down to a generous table. A flat cake with honey, a roasted hen and a bottle of brandy should be served.
FEBRUARY
  • 1st February - St. Trifon's Day ('Trifon Zarezan')
    St. Trifon-The Healer is considered to be the patron of vine-growers, tavern-keepers and gardeners. In the vine-growing regions of Bulgaria different icons portray him with a pruning-knife in his head. By tradition, on this day the trellis-vines are cut and the "king of the vineyards" is elected. All those named Trifon, Trifonka, Lozan, Lozanka celebrate their name day.
  • The festivities around 'Trifon Zarezan' last for three days. According to tradition three embers are set on fire the first day and by how much they have burnt till the third day, one can judge how fertile the forthcoming year will be.
  • 10th February - St. Haralampi
    According to tradition honey and beehives are sanctified by performing a ritual for health and rich harvest. Sick or blind people go to church and pray for healing.
  • 14th February - St. Valentine's Day
    A special form of greeting cards and small presents are exchanged in observance of St. Valentine's Day - a day set aside as a lovers' festival.
MARCH
  • 1st March - Baba Marta
    According to tradition on 1st March people give away ‘martenitsi’ to all relatives and friends with the greeting ‘Chestita Baba Marta’, which means ‘Happy Granny Marta’. The ‘martenitsi’ are small decorations made of twisted white and red threads, which symbolize health and power. People should wear them until the first storks and swallows come back from overseas and should decorate with them the nearest budding tree or put them under a stone when they see a stork or the first bloom.
  • 3rd March - The Liberation from the Ottoman yoke
    On 3rd March 1878 Bulgaria was liberated from the Ottoman yoke. This day is celebrated as a National Holiday, on which we pay tribute to the brave Bulgarians who died during the Liberation War.
  • 19th March - St. Theodore’s Day (‘Todorovden’)
    It is known also as Horse Easter (‘Konski Velikden’), because St. Theodore is considered to be the patron of brides and horses. The horse races, organized at lunchtime on this day, have a lot to do with the belief that it was on this day that St. Theodore mounted his horse and went to ask God for summer. People named Todor, Teodora, Toshko, Totka celebrate their name day.
  • 25th March - Blagoveshtenie
    According to tradition this is the day, on which swallows and cuckoos deliver the hopeful message that summer is coming. On the previous evening all rooms and the yard are swept up and the rubbish is burnt. The girls jump over the fire, which protects them against snakes. People believe that on Blagoveshtenie all poisons are not poisonous and if the weather is fine, the harvest will be rich. People named Blagovesta, Blaga, Blagoi have a name day.
APRIL
  • 1st April - All Fool’s Day
  • The first day of April, like elsewhere in the world is linked with the custom of playing practical jokes or sending friends or relatives on fools' errands on that date.
  • 23rd April-'Lazarovden'(St. Lazar’s Day)
    The Saturday before Easter is a festival devoted to young girls, pastures, fields and woods. On this day the maidens of the village perform a special ritual called ‘lazaruvane’. The young girls called ‘lazarki’ form groups of 10 to 20 members and as they go from house to house, they sing special songs and perform traditional dances. The young ‘lazarki’ wear colorful sleeveless dresses and bright stockings as a symbol of the awakening nature. It is believed that a young girl is not ready for marriage until she performs dances and songs for ‘Lazarovden’.
  • 24th April - ‘Tsvetnitsa/Vrabnitsa’ (Palm Sunday)
    The next day, which in the west is known as Palm Sunday - is in Bulgaria a festival devoted to willows, flowers and young women. Known as 'Tsvetnitsa' or 'Vrabnitsa' it is also sometimes referred to as 'Kukliden'. Early in the morning the 'lazarki' go to the river. After finding a place where the waters are calm, they put pieces of traditional breads called 'kukli' (dolls) on willow barks and let them go into the river simultaneously. The girl, whose bark outsails those of the others, is pronounced 'kumitsata'. All those named after flowers or trees celebrate their name day on this day.
  • 25th-29th April - The Holy/Passion Week
    The week between Palm Sunday and Easter, is observed with special solemnity as a time of devotion to the passion of Christ. Various events are commemorated on the different days of the Passion Week not too different from other Christian celebrations.
  • On Passion Wednesday no housework should be done, according to the traditional beliefs.
  • On Maundy Thursday the last supper and the betrayal of Christ is commemorated. On this day the Easter eggs are coloured. (They must on no account be coloured on Good Friday.) The red colour, symbolizing Christ's blood, predominates. In addition to standard egg paints, people use natural products such as onions, nutshells and apple peels to colour their eggs. The eggs can be decorated with the help of paintbrushes, wax, flowers or herb leaves. The various patterns are symbols of health, fertility, love and beauty. As a ritual for health the foreheads and cheeks of the children are rubbed with the first Easter egg, which should be red - "to be as white and red as this egg". This first egg is kept with the maiden's dowry or near the icon till the next Easter.
  • Good Friday is the day, on which the Crucifixion and the burial of Christ is commemorated.
  • 30th April-2nd May - Orthodox Easter At midnight on 'Velik' Saturday (30th April) the priest proclaims three times the Resurrection of Christ with the words 'Christos voskrese' (Christ has risen) and the congregation replies 'Voistinu voskrese' (Really he has risen). The congregation then knocks their red painted eggs with each other. Easter cake (‘Kozunak’) and coloured eggs are exchanged amongst friends and neighbours on Easter Sunday and Monday.
MAY
  • 1st-2nd May - Orthodox Easter
    Easter cake (‘Kozunak’) and coloured eggs are exchanged amongst friends and neighbours on Easter Sunday and Monday.
  • 1st May - Labour Day - National holiday.
  • 6th May - St. George’s day
    Day of St George is the official day of soldiers and farmers. The festival is devoted to the Martyr St. George - the Victor, considered to be the patron saint of herds and the protector of domestic animals and their owners. According to the tradition, on this day a lamb, which has been fed with salt, bran and grass, is slain under a fruit tree in the yard of the host. All members of the family then sit at the table and take part in eating the 'kurban' (the roasted lamb).
  • 9th May - St Nicholaus 'Letni' (the summer)
    Name day celebrate all those named Nikolai, Nina, Nichola.
  • 11th May - Saints Cyril and Methodius day
    The festival is devoted to the brothers Cyril and Methodius who received the title 'Apostles of the Slavs' for influencing the religious and cultural development of all Slavic folk and inventing the Slavic alphabet, which is now called Cyrillic. People named Cyril and Methodius have their name day whilst the Bulgarian alphabet is celebrated on 24th May.
  • 21st May - Saints Constantin and Elena
    Nestinarstvo, or fire dancing; practitioners walk barefoot on hot coals in small rural villages in the Strandzha mountains (or increasingly in tourist resorts) in this pagan event marking the arrival of summer. It is believed the ritual is descended from Dionysian rites practiced by ancient Thracians. Name day celebrate all those named Constantin, Elena.
  • 24th May - Day of Slavonic Culture
    This is a National Holiday, celebrated by all teachers who have devoted their lives to education and culture. School flags are sanctified. Students celebrate the development of the Cyrillic alphabet, introduced by Kyril and Methodius, who were later canonized. A church service is held for teachers' and students' health and prosperity.
JUNE
  • 2nd June - Revolutionary heroes day
  • 24th June - 'Enjovden'
    Herbs gathered on 24th June (Enjovden) have stronger healing powers than those gathered on any other day of the year. According to tradition, on Enjovden children and adults roll in dewy fields and have a bath in rivers and brooks in the woods. The women twine flowers and herbs into a wreath and everybody passes through it three times as a ritual for health and fertility.
  • 29th June - St. Peter's Day ('Petrovden')
    St. Peter is the most prominent of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ, a leader and missionary in the early church, and traditionally the first bishop of Rome. In the national calendar St. Peter's Day is preceded by Shrovetide that starts from the first week after Pentecost. On Whitsunday people break their fast eating chicken. The festival devoted to St. Peter, coincides with the beginning of harvest-time. That's why people work in the fields during the first half of the day. Early apples called ‘petrovki’ and ritual loaves of bread are eaten.
  • 29th-30th- St. Paul's Day ('Sveti Pavel')
    According to the canons of Orthodox religion, St. Paul's Day should be celebrated on 29th June. But usually Bulgarians from the Eastern regions of the country celebrate the festival on 30th June. Paul is Peter's elder twin brother. He is always angry, pouring fire and brimstone against those who work on this day. In the folk tradition St. Paul's Day is associated with the destructive powers of nature. All those named Peter, Kamen, Petrana, Penka, Pavlina and Pavel celebrate their name days.
JULY
  • 1st July - St. Kozma and St. Damyan
    They are the patrons of medicine men, herb gatherers and sorceresses. They have managed to heal many people through miracles without being paid at all. That's why they are also known as the Healers or as Bezsrebarnitsi. Those who are ill or blind usually go to sleep over the night before 1st July in chapels commemorating the Saints, where they pray for healing.
  • 7th July - St. Nedelya
    St. Nedelya had lived and died in loyalty to the Orthodox Christianity. Today her mortal remains are kept in Veliko Tarnovo. In Sofia there is a big church named after her (near Sheraton Hotel).
  • 27th July - Sveti Sedmochislenitsi and St. Pantaleimon
    27th July is dedicated to St. Cyril, St. Methodius, Kliment, Naum, Sava, Gorazd and Angelarii who were the first seven Bulgarian educators.
    St. Panteleimon is also commemorated on this day. He is said to be the patron of heavy rains and floods. People believe that on 27th July the Saint puts on his fur coat and commences to bring the winter storms and winds. On the other hand, it is believed that on this day migratory birds gather and start getting ready for the long journey. Women should not do any work if they don't want members of their families to fall ill.
  • 20th July - St. Ilia's Day, Ilinden
    In the Old Testament St. Ilia is represented as an ascetic wanderer. In Christian religion he is a Judaic prophet, a follower of Jehovah. In Bulgaria St. Ilia is honored as the patron of the sky. On 20th July a public prayer for rain and fertility is held. Ilinden is celebrated to prevent hail and thunderstorms. St. Ilia's Day is celebrated by leather workers, fur dressers and tile makers.
  • 31st July - Bogorodichni Zagovezni
    This is the last day before Bogorodichni Lent, on which meat is allowed to be eaten.
AUGUST
  • 6th August - Preobrazhenie Gospodne
    People believe that on 6th August transformations take place in the weather. Days and nights start getting colder. According to tradition, people shouldn't eat grapes till this day because they haven't been blessed yet. (Those who eat will have a toothache throughout the year). In the morning the farmers pick the first bunches of grapes and bring them to the church together with some boiled wheat. There the priest performs a service, after which the bunches of grapes and the boiled wheat are distributed among relatives and neighbours. Fish is allowed to be eaten on this day.
  • 15th August - Virgin Mary's Day
    Virgin Mary's Day is devoted to the death of the Mother of Christ. She is the embodiment of the Holy Female Beginning. The Virgin Mary is honoured as the patron of marriage and family. It is believed that she helps childless husbands to have children. Fairs are organized in places where the Virgin Mary is patron of the local church. All the people in the neighbouring villages are invited to attend the event. Seasonal fruits, previously blessed, are distributed among them (grapes, watermelons, etc.)
  • 18th August - St. Ivan Rilski
    St. Ivan Rilski is commemorated on this day, the anniversary of his death in 946 AD. He is the founder of the world renowned Rila Monastery. His remains are still kept there and are believed to have miraculous powers. St. Ivan Rilski is honoured as the patron of Bulgaria.
  • 29th August - St. Joan
    It is believed that this is the day on which day and night are of equal length. Snakes and lizards go to their winter dens. According to tradition, this holiday is related to the innocently shed blood of St. Joan. The consumption of meat, oil and red fruit or vegetables, such as tomatoes, watermelons, plums and grapes, is forbidden. Men also should not drink red wine. People shouldn't set out on a journey on this day or start new undertakings.
SEPTEMBER
  • 1st September
    The first day of September marks the beginning of the Church New Year.
  • 6th September - The Union /National Holiday/
    On 6th September 1885 Eastern Rumelia, an autonomous province under Turkish rule, was united with the Bulgarian Principality. Thus an end was put to one of the greatest injustices of the Berlin Congress (1878).
  • 8th September - Virgin Mary’s Day
    On this holiday known also as ‘Malka Bogoroditsa’,the birth of the Virgin Mary is celebrated. On this day all women who do not have children pray to the Virgin Mary in the hope of conception. As a ritual for health a round loaf (‘pita’) is made and is distributed among the people after church. Maria, Merry, Martcho have their name day.
  • 14th September - The Day of The Holy Cross
    The holiday is related to Helena - the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine I, who is said to have found the Holy cross at Golgotha. In Bulgarian folk tradition this day is associated with the beginning of autumn and the autumn agricultural life. It is also believed that this day marks the beginning of the grape harvest. The first gathered grapes are sanctified and distributed in the hope of a prosperous year. Name day celebrate all those named Krastyo, Krastan, Christine.
  • 15th September - First School-day
    In every Bulgarian family, 15 September - the beginning of the school year for young and elder students, is celebrated as a holiday. This fact is associated with the deep respect of every Bulgarian for education and science, as well as with his traditional love for children and care of them.
  • 17th September - Faith, Hope, Love
    The three sisters Vyara, Nadezhda and Lyubov (Faith, Hope and Love) were executed on this day in the year 126 A.D. together with their mother St. Sofia.
  • 17th September - St. Sofia’s Day
    This day is now celebrated by the capital as its holiday and is known as the Day of Sofia. The symbol of the city is a twenty-four-meter high statue of “Sofia” which reminds of Tjuhe - the Goddess of Fate. Designed by the famous Bulgarian artist Georgi Chapkanov and the architect Stanislav Konstantinov, it was erected in front of Bulbank on 30th September 2000.
  • 22nd September - Independence Day /National Holiday/.
OCTOBER
  • 14th October - St. Petka’s Day
    According to the Christian canons, this day is devoted to St. Petka. The holiday is related to some pre-Christian elements. It is believed that 14th October marks the end of summer. On this day all landlords should pay the monthly wages to the workers they have hired for the summer season – agricultural laborers, day laborers, shepherds. Name day celebrate all those named Petka, Petko, Petya.
  • 19th October - St. Ivan Rilski
    St. Ivan Rilski, known also as the The Miracle Worker, is the most famous Bulgarian hermit. He was canonized right after his death. He had founded the Rila Monastery, where his relics are kept to this day and are said to still provide miracle cures.
  • 26th October - St. Dimitar’s Day /’Dimitrovden’/
    According to tradition, St. Dimitar’s Day marks the beginning of autumn. St. Dimitar is considered to be the master of winter. He rides a red horse and the first snowflakes are said to fall from his white beard. Traditionally, a meeting is arranged between the young people of the village with a view to marriage. On this day the lads choose their prospective wives from a group of maidens who perform a special national dance called “horo”. Name day celebrate all those named Dimitar, Dimitrina, Mitko, Dimo.
  • 27th October - St. Nestor’s Day, 'Mishinden'
    It is believed that mice, snakes and moles crawled out of the body of a pagan who was defeated by St. Nestor. A lot of superstitions relate to this day to protect from mice. Women shouldn't use any sharp objects or instruments. They shouldn't touch knives, needles or scissors, but most importantly women should not talk about mice!
NOVEMBER
  • 1st November - The Day Of The Leaders Of The Bulgarian National Revival
    National Holiday
  • 8th November - The Day Of St. Michael The Archangel
    St. Michael the Archangel is considered to be the patron of the dead and the leader of the heavenly armies. He is the angel who comes down from the heavens when people die and takes their souls away from their bodies. (They call him also 'dushevadnik'.) It is believed that he is the most impartial angel because he makes no difference between rich and poor. Name day celebrate all those named Michael, Michaela.
  • 21st November - The Day Of Orthodox Youths And Christian Family
    This holiday is devoted to the young men, Virgin Mary and her pious family.
  • 25th November - St. Kliment Ohridski
    St. Kliment Ohridski has been an enlightener for over 30 years. He simplified the 'glagolitsa' to create the present Cyrillic alphabet and also built many churches and monasteries. Name day celebrate all those named Klimen, Klementina.
  • 30th November - St. Andrei’s Day
    According to tradition, St. Andrei managed to tame a bear, to put it to harness instead of an ox and to plough his field with it. This holiday is devoted to the bears, which are considered to symbolize fertility and the female beginning. Women should not do any work on 30th November. This day marks also the beginning of winter. Name day celebrate all those named Andrei, Adriana.
DECEMBER
  • 6th December - St. Nicholaus
    Every year on 6th December the Bulgarian Orthodox Church holds a festive liturgy devoted to St. Nicholaus during which ritual loaves of bread, fish and wine are sanctified. St. Nicholaus is considered to be the patron saint of sailors, fishermen, merchants and pawnbrokers. He is also regarded as the protector of children. Name day celebrate all those named Nikolai, Nikolina, Nichola.
  • 20th December - St. Ignatius
    From St. Ignatuis Day till Christmas, Christians would observe a strict fast, excluding even vegetable oil from their diet. On 20th December we should not welcome into our houses people with evil intentions otherwise we will be steeped in unhappiness throughout the forthcoming year. However it is considered a good sign if a domestic animal enters your home. We should not go on a visit empty-handed. We should not lend money on that day. Women should leave their housework. Under no circumstances should parents reproach their children. If that happens, they will be in constant conflict during the New Year.
  • 24th December - Christmas Eve
    On Christmas Eve the whole family gathers for a festive meal. The oldest man in the house lights the fire, which should be fanned by means of a Yule log - a piece of pear or oak tree cut for this particular occasion. The warmth and the light of the fireplace should be preserved throughout the whole night. There should be 7, 9 or 11 vegetarian dishes served on the table - traditional bean soup, boiled wheat, stuffed cabbage leaves, paprika stuffed with rice, a loaf of bread, onions, dried fruit compote, a pumpkin pastry ('tikvenik') and fruits.
  • 25th December - Christmas Day, the birth of Christ
    Christmas is an official holiday in Bulgaria and the whole family is at home to celebrate the birth of Christ - a symbol of the never-failing hope for salvation of human soul. The aroma of magnificently decorated fir-trees permeates the air, children are impatient to receive their presents and housewives are busy preparing many culinary surprises. According to the tradition, as of midnight a group of people, called 'koledari', go from house to house and sing Christmas songs to the hosts, who in return give them walnuts and sweeties.
  • 27th December - St. Stefan
    St. Stefan is commemorated by the Christians on 27th December. Everybody bearing the name Stefan or Stefanka celebrate on this day.
  • 31st December - New Year's Eve
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