Easter in Bulgaria

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Easter eggs and ‘kozunak’, Bulgarian sweet bread

Credit: News Field

Easter is a couple of days away in Bulgaria and people have already started their preparations for one of the biggest Orthodox celebrations. Easter, known in Bulgaria as ‘Velikden’, is the time to have delicious thematic food, enjoy the company of your beloved ones and of course, fancy a few days off work.

The Orthodox countries in the Balkans have similar ways of celebrating Easter.  However, there are some traditions Bulgarians follow which make the holiday one of a kind.

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Easter eggs

Credit: News Field

Palm Sunday – the start of the Holy Week

Palm Sunday, the day on which people celebrate Jesus’ entry to the holy town of Jerusalem, is known as Tsvetnitsa (Flower Day) in Bulgaria. On this day, people take twigs of willow and decorate their homes as willow is believed to have magical powers.

On Palm Sunday Bulgarians named after flowers and plants (including those named Lily, Rose, etc.) celebrate their name day.

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Palm Day is known as ‘Flower Day’ in Bulgaria

Credit: News Field

Holy Thursday

Eggs are usually dyed on Holy Thursday. The first egg you take out of the paint is always red as it symbolized the blood of Jesus Christ. Before the paint dries up, the mother in the household draws a red cross on the forehead of  the children and other members of the family. The first egg is then put next to the icon of St. Mary. People break the egg on Easter the following year and judging by its colour make predictions. If the egg is white, the family will be blessed during the whole year, but if it the egg has darkened, there will be many challenges to overcome.

Good Friday

Good Friday is the the anniversary of the Crucifixion. On this day in Bulgaria, you should not do any household work, especially ironing and washing, as this will only give you bad luck and trouble for the rest of the year.

Holy Saturday

Church services begin at 11 pm. Families and friends go to church together, carrying the dyed eggs with them. When the clock strikes midnight, people greet each other with the words ‘Hristos Voskrese’ (translated ‘Christ has risen’) and the response is Voistina Vozkrese (translated ‘Indeed, He has risen’).

The priest and the believers walk around the church three times, holding a candle. According to a superstitious belief, the number of times your candle goes out is the number of the sins you have.

Kozunak – traditional feast

Kozunak is traditional sweet bread made for Easter. It is also popular in Romanian, French and Italian cuisines but under different names. Milk, flour, sugar, eggs and oil are the ingredients needed for ‘kozunak’. Two loaves of ‘kozunak’ are usually made in every family as one of them is given to the priest. People eat this sweet dish after the Sunday Easter service.

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‘Kozunak’ is popular in a lot of countries

Credit: News Field

Easter egg fight

The most interesting part of Easter are the egg fights that occur on Sunday morning.  People take turns in smashing their eggs against the eggs of other people. The person who has managed to keep his/her egg unbroken is the Easter egg fight winner. He/she is then considered the wealthiest, healthiest and happiest person for the rest of the year.

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Easter egg fight

Credit: News Field

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