Lazarus Saturday falls on a different date every year and is celebrated one week before Easter. On this day the Orthodox Church commemorates the resurrection of Lazarus.
The Bulgarians call the feast Lazaritsa, Lazar, Lazarovden. It is celebrated in honor of the fields, pastures and forests. The rituals on Lazarus Day are cheerful and poetic, related to the spring awakening of the nature, to the dreams and hopes of wellbeing and to the marrying of the maidens.
The ancient customs performed on Lazarus Day – lazaruvane and boenek, are intriguing. Lazaruvane is a common Bulgarian tradition which in the Thracian and Rhodope regions is celebrated on two consecutive Saturdays. On the first Saturday, called Little Lazarus, the little girls do the lazaruvane, and on the second, known as Big Lazarus – girls old enough to get married.
The lazarki (the girls performing the ritual) go from house to house around the village and sing special ritual songs dedicated to each member of the family in the gardens. They sing to the host, the hostess, the daughter-in-law, the baby, the elderly in the house.
The lazarki jump high and stamp their feet so that the wheat grows tall and the livestock breeds. While dancing they swing white lazarus handkerchiefs in front of themselves.
The hosts give the girls white eggs which one of them collects in a small basket.
The lazarki are expected by the hosts with great joy. It is strongly believed that a house where the lazarki have sung and danced will be prosperous and the family will enjoy health and longevity. The lazarki do not enter only houses where somebody has passed away if there has been less than a year since the funeral.
On Lazarus Saturday a name day celebrate Lazar and Lazara.