Sirni Zagovezni In Bulgaria

Welcome to World Blog Surf Day. I hope you enjoyed The Skaian Gates by Yarzac. The theme as you may know is about Holidays and Celebrations and for sure there is bound to be a great varity form around the world. A big thanks to Sher at Czech Off The Beaten Path who again has taking this third World Blog Suf Day event up a league with her dedicated work and excellent communication to participants.

I have already written about my favourite celebration in Bulgaria and it has been published in my book Simple Treasures in Bulgaria. If you like what you read I am offering my book (in the ebook format) for free to all World Blog Surfers who take part in this event. Just let me know your email address in the comments and I will return the ebook which retails at £3.75 (£11.95 for a hard copy.) If you want to see a preview of the book you can here -> Simple Treasures In Bulgaria.

Enough said, here's the World Blog Surf Day post.

Sirni Zagovezni
One of the most popular festivals in Bulgaria is Sirni Zagovezni, meaning ‘Shrove Sunday’ or ‘The Great Lent’. This falls each year on a Sunday some seven weeks before Easter. I have experienced two seasons of these now; it is a time for celebrating the beginning of spring and a period of fasting, in fact the longest fasting period of the year in the Orthodox tradition. This means abstaining from meat, dairy products (fish once a week is allowed), no traditional dancing and no marriages to take place until Easter. This fasting does still go on, but the food here is too good and too tempting for me to even consider joining this part of the ritual. Many villages and towns have the tradition of building large bonfires, and Skalitsa is no exception. There is either the usual communal bonfire or individual groups made by neighbours on their own. The fires are built on higher land in the belief that this will prevent hailstorms striking the areas that they light. I live right up on the high ground of the village, so just outside my house is a good place for this. The preparations for this festival include hand-carving wooden rockets and laying them out for a week or two until they are tinder dry for the day. This is really tough on the hands and my carving efforts only resulted in three rockets.

Each rocket is fixed to its launching stick, and then lit from the bonfire before blasting off to challenge the other rockets as they soar up to a hundred metres over the neighbouring houses. As each is launched, a name is shouted out and that rocket subsequently dedicated to that person, family, friend or lover! The handmade rockets are collected up by young Bulgarian maidens — whoever collects the most will be deemed to be the fairest in the town or village. The young male pilots of the rockets therefore usually aim their rockets at their favoured maiden’s home to make it easier for her to find. This is a tradition where both young and old gather. The bonfire is the place where asked-for forgiveness is given from the young to the old; a time to rid everyone of past quarrels. This is also traditionally a time for the younger members of the community to respect their elders. Jumping over the fire is another part of the ritual, usually performed by the younger members of the community, although many older members have been known to have a go, and some of them did this cold Sunday evening! It is said that the farthest jump would give that young man a wife in the autumn, but all attempts will give good health to the participants in return for their efforts. I had a go, but graciously let others beat me in distance —the reason being quite simply because I didn’t want to get married again!

Even when the rockets and jumping have finished and the wine and rakia have been passed round until they’re almost gone the festivities don’t stop. This, after all, is the last day of feasting and dancing prior to the fasting period, so it’s back home for Bulgarian apple-bobbing, wining, dining and dancing until the early hours; for the morning brings about a focus of the body and mind until Easter. Which was just as well, as I didn’t fancy anything to eat in the morning….

Please take time to visit Karen at Empty Nest Expat Karen is an American expat blogger last seen in Prague. The Wall Street Journal said of her, "Her blog makes a fun read for anyone looking for reassurance that change can be a wonderful thing--and also for anyone interested in visiting the Czech Republic." Some creditable review that lives up to her blogs if I may say so.

Finally please visit the next wordl blogger in line on your world tour. Sezinia by Sezin. She describes herself as follows:
I'm a global tumbleweed with roots currently down in Prague, Czech Republic, who writes about culture, politics, spirituality and horror.
What a mixture!
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