The most important Christian holidays in Bulgaria are
Christmas and Easter. At Christmas, families gather to feast and celebrate
and children look forward to receiving presents. A special aspect of Christmas
in Bulgaria is the tradition of sourvakari (carollers) who go from home
to home singing and wishing everyone health and prosperity.
Before Easter, women and children dye eggs. Every colour is used, but red is a special colour that symbolizes the Virgin Mary. Red eggs are also rubbed on children's cheeks to make them rosy and to wish the children good health. People play Easter games with raw eggs. Two people face each other, each holding an egg in his or her fist. They hit each other's fists trying to break the other's egg. The person left with an intact egg will have good luck and good health throughout the year. Special foods at this time include a rich Easter bread and roasted lamb or goat.
During the month of March, Bulgarians wish each other health
and happiness with Chestita Baba Marta or "Happy Grandmother Marta." "Marta"
comes from the Bulgarian word for March. This ancient Bulgarian tradition symbolizes
the end of the cold winter and the coming of the spring. People pin red and white
tassels on their lapels to bring good luck.
The Festival of Roses is celebrated during the first half of June in southeast Bulgaria. Rose picking starts before dawn while the roses are still glistening with dew. The rose petals are picked before sunrise to preserve the precious fragrance. Every year, a girl is crowned "Queen of the Roses." People dress in colourful national costumes for this festival.
|The most important Muslim festival occurs at the end of Ramadan, the month when Muslims fast during the daylight hours. A three-day holiday called Sheker Bayram (Sugar Holiday) is celebrated with family get-togethers and presents for children. The four-day Kurban Bayram (Festival of the Sacrifice) celebrates the prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to God. The holiday is marked by the killing of a sheep or goat. The meat is distributed to family, friends and the poor. Muslims follow the lunar calendar, so these holidays occur 12 or 13 days earlier each year.|