On this day celebrate Atanas, Atanaska, Tanas, Naso.
The church commemorates the feast of St. Athanasius the Great the Archbishop of Alexandria, who fought vehemently against the Arian heresy. According to popular beliefs, when the saints divided the world among them St. Athanasius was given the winter cold and snow. That is why he is considered Lord of the Winter.
People also call St. Athanasius’s day “mid-winter”, because according to the legend from this day on the winter is leaving. St. Athanasius mounts a white horse, puts on a white shirt and shouts from the Balkan: “Go away, winter, come here, summer!” According to folk legends St. Anthony and St. Athanasius are called Fathers of the Plague, because it is believed that the disease was born on their day. That is why the feast is also called Plague’s day, Aunt’s day.
People pictured the disease as a hunchbacked old woman, dressed in black rags. In order to gain her mercy the housewives knead fresh loafs of round bread early in the morning, spread honey on them, stick some basil on top and give them away in the neighborhood. They prick the round bread with a fork in order to prevent the measles from “pricking” their children. A black hen is offered as a sacrifice. In Thracia a ritual dish is prepared from a black chicken, which is believed to chase the “aches” away and whose feathers possess a healing power.
On St. Athanasius’s day the traditional dishes are festive round bread with honey, boiled hen, and pork with okra.