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Customs and traditions
January 7th – St. John’s Day

On January 7th the Bulgarians celebrate St. John’s Day. This day is meant to commemorate the Prophet John the Baptist by the Christian Church. The Forerunner preached the arrival of Jesus Christ among the people, and baptized the people and the very Son of God in the river Jordan.

On this day various rites and ceremonies involving the water sanctified on St. Jordan’s Day are performed.

On St. John’s Day early in the morning the brides and the girls are washed with water from the river or a well in order to be healthy. The engaged maidens, the bridegrooms and those who have a name day also bathe. The feast ends in the house of the washed one at a rich table and with the exchange of gifts. According to beliefs the last one to enter the water will conceive a healthy offspring.

“Hvashtane na aratlitsi” (finding of adopted brother) is the name of the ritual for fraternization of bachelors and men. This tradition is widely known and spread in the Thracian region.

Another custom on this day is for the newly-weds to visit their .best man and bridesmaid bringing them wine, Bulgarian brandy (rakia), traditional cheese pastry and special dough nuts. The best man and bridesmaid on their part prepared a rich and meaty supper.

St. John’s feast day is the last day of the carol singing ritual which puts and end to the mummers’ groups. After supper everybody goes out to celebrate by dancing horo.

This is the name day of all those bearing the names Ivan, Ivanka, Vanyo, Vanya, Ivayla, Ivaylo, Ivo, Ivelin, Kaloyan, Yoan, Yoana, Yonka, Yonko, Joto, Zhan, Zhana, Yana.

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