Bulgarians Honor St Anthony to Prevent Diseases
The Venerable Anthony the Great is celebrated by the Orthodox Church on January 17. Photo by stjohnsiconstudio.com
The Bulgarian Orthodox Churchy honors Thursday the memory of the Venerable Anthony the Great, on the holiday called Antonovden.
Anthony was born in about 250 AD in Egypt. During his life he spent 20 years in complete solitude in the desert. Sick and suffering people came to him for help.
At the alleged age of 104 he entered into an open dispute with supporters of the doctrine of Arianism and defeated them. His success is called the Triumph of Christianity.
The following year Anthony died and was buried in a secret place. Later his relics were re-discovered and officially transferred to Vienna.
In the popular calendar Antonovden is celebrated as a Saint helping prevention of diseases.
On this day, women do not spin or knit, do not boil beans or lentils since it is believed they might provoke the onset of plague or smallpox.
Traditionally, they knead sour roundbread, coated with molasses, to give to relatives and neighbors for health. One loaf is to be left in the attic "for the ache, for the aunt," in other words, the plague.
In folklore, twin brothers Anton and Atanas were blacksmiths who first invented the blacksmith tongs.
Therefore Antonovden and Atanasovden (January 18) are also celebrated as the holiday of blacksmiths, ironmongers, cutlers and farriers.
Names being clebrated today include: Anton, Andon, Doncho, Antonia, Donka, Tony.
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