Bulgaria marks Easter
In 2021, the Bulgarian Orthodox church celebrates Easter on 2nd of May.
The holiday starts with Palm Sunday and the holy week leads up to the Easter Day.
In Bulgarian Orthodox Church tradition, the Lenten fast begins on Zagovezni, ('The Great Lent'). This comes around each year falling on a Sunday, seven weeks before Easter. This is the longest fasting period of the year in Orthodox tradition, 46 days. This means abstaining from meat and dairy products. No traditional dancing and no marriages take place until Easter
Brightly coloured eggs and Easter breads known as “kozunak” are the prominent symbols of Easter in Bulgaria.
As part of the tradition, people dye hard-boiled chicken eggs, the first of which is painted red to represent the blood of Christ. The hard shell of the egg symbolizes the sealed Tomb of Christ — the cracking of which symbolizes his resurrection from the dead.
Traditionally, eggs were decorated by using natural colours. Some people still use old techniques of dying by cooking eggs in water with onions, walnuts, roots and different herbs. Over the years, with the changing trend, people have started embellishing their Easter eggs with synthetic colours and dyes.
The traditional braided sweet bread, kozunak, symbolizing the body of Christ, is a necessary item of the Easter table everywhere.
Many people attend the church service, where at midnight, between Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, the priest announces ‘Christ is Risen!’ They walk around the church three times and then carry their lit candles home with them to ensure luck and prosperity in the coming year. People usually take Easter eggs and breads to be blessed by the priests in the church.
The egg cracking is a tradition in Bulgaria. It starts from the first minutes of the Easter Sunday. People take turns cracking their decorated eggs against the eggs of others. The holder of the last unbroken egg is said to be the winner and is believed to have great luck, health and fortune for the next year.
Easter Sunday itself is celebrated with a large family meal, rich in tastes and typically including roasted lamb with rice and herbs stuffing, spring green salad and sweet Easter breads.
This year, Bulgaria’s Orthodox churches and temples will be open for traditional Easter services despite the coronavirus epidemic, but the services will be held in line with the anti-epidemic measures.
Bulgaria’s health authorities recommend the worshippers not to kiss the icons, to keep physical distance inside the churches of at least 1,5 m between each other and wear protective masks. Exceptions are made for the priests.
The churches and temples are required to provide disinfectants, to regularly disinfect the premises, to open the windows, to regulate the paassage of people by separate corridors for entry and exit where possible.
The health authorities recommend the worshippers to avoid crowding of many people in one place.
image by BGNES