Interesting folk holidays and traditions unique to Bulgaria

Interesting folk holidays and traditions unique to Bulgaria

Bulgarians try to be as modern as other Europeans, but they willingly keep their traditions and put them into practice. If you want to explore a truly unique part of Bulgaria, take part in some of the festivals and traditions that take place throughout the year.

Bulgaria is one of the few countries in the world where there is a tradition of walking on hot coals. It happens once a year in a village called Bulgari. On June 3, after sunset, a huge pile of coal is scattered on the main square of the village. Special dancers, called nestinaria, walk barefoot over embers to a special folk tune and dance a folk dance.

Bulgarians have a bizarre winter tradition of dressing up like monsters and being very noisy to make sure all evil spirits are scared away. The monsters are called kukeri and you can watch them dance and perform special performances across the country from January 1st to mid-March (dates change annually).

Swimming in ice water
January 6th is usually a cold and frosty day, but that doesn't stop dozens of Bulgarians from jumping into the icy river water every year. The reason is the celebration by Orthodox Christians of the day of John the Baptist. According to tradition, the local priest throws the crucifix into the river and the men try to get it. They say whoever finds it first will be happy and healthy all year round.

Zheravna Festival
Every summer, a special event takes place in the village of Zheravna - a folklore festival, where only original traditional clothes are allowed and all modern electronic devices are prohibited. The Zheravna festival aims to remind people of their roots and show a cultural landscape that cannot be returned to.

Gela Bagpipe Festival
Every summer, in the heart of the Rhodope Mountains, the biggest and most popular bagpipe music competition in Bulgaria takes place. A stage has been built on the hills above the village of Gela, where musicians from all over the country perform. The festival takes place over the weekend and turns into a grand open-air night party.

New Year's Day is celebrated on June 24 and is dedicated to St. John. The night before June 24, according to local legends, is the time when witches and wizards go out to gather herbs for their spells. It is believed that at this time, all medicinal herbs have 10 times more healing power than usual, and young women should collect 77 types of herbs by sunrise in order to maintain health and abundance in the family and home throughout the year.
Trifon stabbed to death
February 14th may be the day of love all over the world, but in Bulgaria it is known as Trifon Zarezan or winemakers' day. Since Saint Tryphon is said to protect everyone involved in the production of wine, Bulgarians honor him on this day by caring for their vineyards and drinking a lot of wine.
Baba Marta
Baba Marta March 1 is the day when spring begins to win, and winter begins to lose its strength. Bulgarians celebrate it by tying red and white threads around the wrist or pinning them to their coats. This martenitsa should remain on your hand until you see a stork - a foreshadowing sign that spring is already here.