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Religious Holidays

Tuesday 12 December 2017
11 December 2017 - 17 December 2017
December 2017

Jews Celebrate the Festival of Lights

On December 13, 2017 Jews celebrate the Hanukkah - the Festival of Lights. Every night during the eight-day holiday a candle in a special menorah is lit in all synagogues and in every Jewish house. Every year in Central Sofia Synagogue after 5:40 pm the first candle is lit by someone respected by the Jewish community and a blessing is read. The holiday reminds us of the miracle that happened in 3597 (165-167 BC) when the Jews gained their freedom and the temple was once again lit up – a cruse of pure olive oil which was enough to light the menorah for one day lit it for 8 days. Thus, the Jews were able to prepare pure oil for the candlestick. During the 8-day holiday the Jews eat oil-based foods such as jelly doughnuts (sufganiot) and potato pancakes (latkes) to commemorate the miracle of the menorah oil.
Religious Holidays

Christmas Eve (December 24)

Christmas Eve is a family holiday usually celebrated at home. Traditionally before the festive dinner the host puts a special log in the fireplace – budnik, which burns throughout the night. On Christmas Eve the festive meal consists of odd number of lenten dishes – 7, 9 or, 11. There is also a festive round loaf of bread with a coin put into the dough during the kneading. It is believed that whoever finds the coin in their piece of bread will be healthy and lucky throughout the following year.
Every year at midnight on Christmas Eve in the village of Zheleznitsa an old folklore tradition comes to live. Men called koledari take part in a ceremony called koleduvane. They are dressed in traditional costumes and wear specially decorated hats. They visit all houses in the village and wish prosperity, health, luck and success throughout the New Year.
Religious Holidays

Nativity of Jesus

The Nativity of Jesus is one of the greatest Christian holidays - for the Orthodox Church it is the second most important feast. On this day people celebrate the birth of Jesus and the beginning of people’s salvation. Divine Liturgy is held in all eparchies of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
In Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral Church in Sofia the festive Divine Liturgy is led by the head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church Patriarch Neophyte.
On this day the Nativity Fast ends and thus there should be all kinds of food and especially pork dishes on the table. Hristo, Bozhin, Mladen, Radomir, Radoslav, Raostin, Christian and others celebrate their name day on this date.
December 26 – the second day of Christmas is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. On December 27 we honor Saint Stephen (Stephan’s day), and the Christmas holidays come to an end.
Religious Holidays

Saint Basil the Great

The New Year begins by honoring Saint Basil the Great on January 1. The feast is also known as Vasilyovden (Vasil’s Day), Survaki and Surva. On this day masked men (survakari, kukeri, etc.) go from house to house and wish health and fertility. Vasil, Vasilen, Vasilena, Vasilii, Vasilka, Vaska, Vesela, Veselin, Veselina, Valko, and Valcho celebrate their name day on this date.
Religious Holidays

Holy Theophany (Yordanovden)

On January 6, Christians celebrate Holy Theophany (Yordanovden). This day commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, and is one of the great feats of the Church. It is also regarded as Day of Light and Enlightenment. It is celebrated by the Orthodox Church with festive ceremony. After that the priest throws a cross in a river or in the sea and the men race to grab it. It is believed that if the cross freezes in the water the year will be fertile and the people – healthy.
In Sofia the cross is thrown in the lake in Druzhba quarter. Yordan, Yordana, Yordanka, Bistra, Bogdan, Bogolyuba, Bogomil, Bozhana, Borislava, Boyan and others celebrate their name day on this date.
Religious Holidays

Ivanovden - St. John the Baptist

On January 7 we celebrate Ivanovden. On this day the Orthodox Church honors St. John the Baptist - the greatest prophet who foretold the coming of Christ. He is the patron saint of baptism and brotherhood. On this day people perform ritual cleansing with water as they believe in the healing power of water. Over 370 thousand Bulgarians celebrate their name day on this date. Ivan is the second most popular male name in Bulgaria and over 161 000 Bulgarians bear this name.
Religious Holidays