Today is the Day of Forgiveness in Bulgaria — the last Sunday before the Great Lent starts. Forgiveness is an easy thing when you have not done anything wrong but a very serious business when you might have done — intentionally or not — things that might have hurt others.
The holiday is observed on a Sunday, exactly seven weeks before Easter, and is also called Sirni Zagovezni. That name refers to the fact that one is allowed to eat milk products, the day being located within the Easter Fast. Sirni Zagovezni is also considered a preparation for the Great Lent.
In some parts of the country the forgiveness day is also associated with the manifestly pagan kukeri dance, in which men dressed like demons try to chase evil spirits away.
The most typical tradition connected to that day is starting the feast fires. Right from the very dawn, a Koukeri band starts its walk around everybody’s home. By means of various symbolic and ritual-magic actions, they are wishing health, land fertility and prosperity to the hosts.
At Shrove Sunday, the spirit gets purged by the forgiveness given and asked for, the body gets stronger if the person manages to jump over the fire, and the nature sends away evil forces by the ringing of the Koukeri bells. The dance of those masked men brings blessing and land fertility. A Kouker young woman (also called “bride”) starts ploughing the field and calls fertility, health and good luck to come into people’s houses…
There is a delightful Bulgarian tradition on this Day of Forgiveness to play a game in which the children try to catch a hard-boiled egg suspended on a string from a rod while using mouths only and no hands. It was one of those dear childhood memories that brought unrestrained laughter into my family.
Now I am at New York, USA, 5805,53 miles away from my beloved Bulgaria, my lovely parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and my amazing sister, but that won’t stop me of celebrate this day with my husband and friends. 🙂
Hope you all, will find this tradition interesting and you all, will forgive your friends and family too, for everything they have been wrong during 2013. Any thoughts on this great Bulgarian tradition are welcome… 🙂*** For more information on Sirni Zagovezni or the Day of Forgiveness you can read this amazing article – HERE!