A Bulgarian Easter 2009 - A Joyful Family Occasion

There are so many things to write about this last weekend I am really quite confused as to which should preside. Perhaps just a run of events might just fit the bill this time round.

A Bulgarian Easter 2009 - A Joyful Family OccasionIt was a sulky Lada that stood in the street last Friday as I mounted my bicycle to ride the 37 kilometres to the village farmhouse just to water the crops, get a rat trap and bring some gherkins seedlings back. The ride was fantastic, why I don’t ride more often it a complete mystery! Without Galia who was preparing for the Easter weekend it was a night on my own with howling wolves no longer scaring me as sat outside well beyond sunset before retiring to a rakia and well earned sleep.

The next morning, another bicycle ride, this time slightly faster than the day before back to Yambol. There is an increasing amount of traffic on the roads these days. Three years ago I could have travelled 20 kilometres and not passed any cars, maybe an occasional horse and cart. Now every few minutes a car zooms past, it is quite a depressing thought that this will get worse as each year goes by.

Many of these vehicles are 4x4 motors and of these many are expats or Brits on holiday here right now. The only problem I had with traffic today on the bike was the inconsideration of a Brit driver that came too close causing me to have to swerve into the grass verge. What I normally do in these cases is spit on their car window screen as they go past, it make me feel better that a message has been delivered. It may sound disgusting, but for me their total disregard and inconsideration for me is far more disgusting – A worse thought was that they must have thought it was only a Bulgarian cyclist.

That aside I got back to Yambol safely and the gherkins and rat trap intact. Oh yes, the rattrap is for a rat that ran across my feet as I entered the garage for my bike the day before. It had been eating our stock of winter potatoes. The trap is now set and we hope to drown it at some point in the future.

Saturday evening and barbeque mackerel was on the menu. The reason for fish was that today was meant to be the 50th and last day of fasting from meat (fish not included) as tomorrow spring lamb was planned to be eaten by most Bulgarians to celebrated the end of the fast and Easter.

A Bulgarian Easter 2009 - A Joyful Family OccasionSunday, and a walk to the St Nikolai Church with Galia and Baba (pictured) to light candles, say a prayer and pay our religious respects to the occasion. You will find that most Bulgarian families attend church on these special religious days and a queue to get in is quite normal. As we purchase the candles and get blessed by the priest as we enter the grand church.

We went for a little stroll through Yambol after church and treated ourselves to a little ice cream from a stall. This is something we don’t normally do so it was a very special moment sitting in the flower borne park with an ice cream. There were many little stalls open today with bouncy castles, balloons and sweets as this was a weekend of Easter family celebration with many families out walking the city centre after church on this warm and sunny day.

A Bulgarian Easter 2009 - A Joyful Family OccasionWe arrive back home to find that family guests were waiting outside out yard gate and we had the keys. From there on it was a further nine hours that elapsed with eating drinking and talking throughout. I am tempted to get on my Bulgarian food wagon again and detail the menu that was made up this evening, but will leave that for another time in another post. We had the egg knocking competition and one family member had brought his own decorated eggs that had been treated with varnish – He of course won with an unfair advantage. Within this time we also saw Everton knock Manchester United out of the English FA Cup as Ivo, Galia’s son (a Manchester United fan) and I commiserated together as Arsenal were knocked out by Chelsea yesterday.

A well-slept Sunday night led to today where this evening we are due to go to another house to spend the evening with friends instead of family. There will be another long session of eating drinking, berr and Skalitsa rakia and talking. In these instances you just can’t get enough of a good thing.

A Bulgarian Easter 2009 - A Joyful Family OccasionAs I pause slightly between each celebration, I reflect on my past in the UK and the total lack of activities such as these. Family and friend gatherings, no expensive gifts expected, no commercial chocolate eggs, no need to entertain children who are well behaved and do as they are told. Food and drink that is all natural, homemade and produced locally. Simple things are the answer here, things that are not swayed by commercialism and high expectations. But the biggest joy here is the family unit where you can communicate on all levels, talk about anything and everything, there are no secrets in the family here. Nothing is held back and nothing taboo in conversation and this applies to all four generations that attended the celebration.

It really is a privilege to be here and be accepted as part of this family. It has opened my eyes to so many things I never knew existed in family life and I’d better stop writing now before I start breaking down with joyful emotion!

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