Easter in Bulgaria, Friday 13th and more
With Easter holidays upon us this week, an Easter-related post was bound to sneak its way here.
The true reason why I felt compelled to devote a piece on this particular week of the year though is a bit more personal – this year’s “Holy week” happens to be quite occasion-packed for me – first it was both my mom’s and my little boy’s name day last Sunday (Tsvetnitsa), then my son is turning three tomorrow, Apr 14th (yay!), and Easter right afterwards!… Talk about a busy week holiday-wise!
So how is Easter celebrated in Bulgaria? Here are some typical Bulgarian Easter traditions and fun facts:
- The Saturday before Easter is called “Lazarovden” (St. Lazar’s day) in Bulgaria and is named after St. Lazar who is believed to have been resurrected by Jesus 4 days after his death. The name Lazar is a symbol of health and longevity.
- Palm Sunday in Bulgaria is called Tsvetnitsa or Vrabnitsa and is one of the most beautiful Bulgarian holidays. А “holiday of flowers and trees”, Tsvetnitsa heralds the arrival of spring and is also one of the biggest name days in Bulgaria as quite a few Bulgarians carry names that are derived from flowers and trees. On Tsvetnisa all Bulgarian churches hand out willow branches that people take home and hang on doors or icons for health and prosperity.
- According to Bulgarian tradition, if you have missed the chance to do some egg-painting on Holy Thursday, you can still have a shot at it on Saturday. Quite convenient for all of us Mon-Fri workers out there!
- Pre-Easter fast (Lent) in Bulgaria begins on a certain day called Zagovezni, which is always the Sunday six weeks before Easter. For the duration of these 46 days, whoever has chosen to fast (mainly the more devout ones) abstains from all kinds of meat and animal products. On Tsvetnisa/Vrabnitsa though you are allowed to eat fish.
- Apart from lamb, typical Easter food also include sweet bread and dyed eggs. In Bulgaria, the traditional sweet bread is called Kozunak and is a must at any Bulgarian table on Easter.
- As per Bulgarian tradition, a table representing Christ’s coffin is set up in churches on Good Friday and people climb underneath for health and fertility.
- A curious Bulgarian folkloric belief maintains that if you hear a cuckoo halfway through fasting period, it means spring is on its way. If you happen to have money in your pocket at the sound of the cuckoo, you will be rich in the coming year; if you have no money though or are hungry, you are likely to stay that way throughout the year.
- This year’s Good Friday (today) in Bulgaria falls on the much feared and referred to by many as “fatal” – Fri 13th. The day of Jesus’s crucifixion coinciding with the “fatal” Fri 13th – an extremely rare event according to astrologists, surely must be causing many superstitious hearts to skip a beat or two today in anticipation of all sorts of apocalyptic events. Personally I prefer to look at it as an extremely lucky day – and let’s hope I am right!
Here’s to a great Easter weekend!