Bulgaria's Kalofer Celebrates Epiphany with Traditional Male River Dance
The Bulgarian town of Kalofer celebrated on Wednesday the feast day of Epiphany with a traditional dance performed by local men in the icy waters of the river Tundzha.
The participants performed the traditional Bulgarian dance of horo, but with only men allowed in it, accompanied by musicians playing bagpipes.
On the eve of Epiphany, the participants in the male horo gathered at the house of the mayor to prepare for the dance by warming up.
The ritual in Kalofer is a variation of the popular celebrations held across Bulgaria on Epiphany, which involves a priest throwing a cross in a body of water (river, sea or lake) and young men diving in the water to retrieve it.
It is believed that whoever is first to reach and retrieve the cross, he will be healthy throughout the year.
In Kalofer, the cross is handed to the youngest participant in the horo.
Among the other rituals performed on Epiphany are the delivery of a liturgy, the renewal of the holy water in temples and the consecration of the military standards.
In Kalofer, the feast day coincides with the birth day of the town's most popular inhabitant – Bulgarian revolutionary and national hero Hristo Botev.
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