May 6 th is St. George’s day, a saint quite beloved in Bulgaria and revered by Christians and Muslims, and the patron saint of gypsies. This day marks the beginning of summer, when families gather and celebrate with roast lamb and special bread.
March 1st is the day that "martenitsi” are given away. These are charms made of white and red thread. Tradition says that they bring health, strength and luck to whoever wears them. These charms should be worn until the end of March or until you see your first stork. They should then be hung on the branches of a tree.
Possibly one of the most widely celebrated holidays in Bulgaria is Velikden, Easter Sunday. The Orthodox celebrate this holiday, dedicated to people with names of flowers and trees, which opens the Passion Week and is celebrated with willow branches. Beginning the night before, the priests celebrate Mass in the churches and then walk the streets followed by a procession crowd. Decorated eggs are given away and people play "egg car", to see who has the strongest egg. On this day, everyone eats "kozunak", a type of bread stuffed with raisins and nuts.
December 6th is the feast of St. Nicholas, the protector of fishermen and sailors. It is typical to eat fish that day and the dish par excellence is carpe stuffed with rice and nuts.
Many other religious and family festivals are celebrated in Bulgaria. One of these celebrations is the National Folk Festival of Koprivshtitsa. Every 4 or 5 years the very best of the national culture is celebrated: singers, dancers and experts of this culture come together to stage beautiful plays, delight the audience with songs and dances and exhibit handmade games and toys.
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