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Customs and traditions
Spasovden / Holy Ascension

The great holiday Holy Ascension is 40 days after Easter and is always on Thursday – on the seventh Great Thursday. On this day Christians celebrate a significant event – the Ascension of the resurrected Jesus to Heaven.

Spasovden is associated mainly with the cult to the dead. On the first Saturday after Spasovden is one of the great All Souls’ Days in the year – Spasova Zadushnitsa.

In the Bulgarian folk mythology dittany is the wood- and water-nymphs’ favorite flower, that is why it is called water-nymph herb or wood-nymph flower. The dittany is believed to flower only in the night before Spasovden – then the water-nymphs pick its blossoms in the middle of the night to adorn themselves. While they are doing this they are happy and merciful. These popular beliefs are the reason for the ceremony called magic healing or going for dittany, rusalya. In the night before Spasovden the ill and the disabled are taken to spend the night in the dittany glades which are believed to be visited by wood- or water-nymphs and which are close to a sacred spring or a chapel. The ill are accompanied by a person of the opposite sex who, after the ritual, becomes a sworn brother or sworn sister to the treated.

According to the folklore it is only in the night before Spasovden when infertility can be cured. Young wives who had not have children yet were supposed to spend the night under the dittany not alone, but accompanied by a person they did not have a blood relation with. They bring a “spasov’s” round bread, a boiled hen and a wooden flask with wine which they put on a red cloth. It was accepted that if a woman had conceived in the night before Spasovden, then it must have been in a magical way and it was not condemned as an adultery.

Spasovden is a professional holiday of bakers, drivers, builders, hoteliers, florists, and a name day celebrate Spas, Spaska, Spasuna, Sotir.

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