Bulgaria Marks St Dimitar Day, 'Beginning of Winter'
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church marks St Dimitar Day, believed to herald the beginning of winter, on Friday, October 26.
According to Christian mythology, St Dimitar, "master of frost and snow", rides a red horse and the year's first snowflakes fall from his white beard.
As a forerunner of winter, in popular beliefs St Dimitar is associated with the netherworld - the world of the dead and of the forefathers. The so-called Dimitrovska Zadushnitsa (All Souls' Day) is on the Saturday preceding the St Dimitar Day.
The church holiday is in honor of the Holy Martyr St Dimitar. Legend has it that he was born in the town of Thessaloniki. After the death of his father, he became a chief of town, accepted the Christian religion and started teaching the residents of Thessaloniki that they should not believe and pray to idols but that they should open their hearts to Jesus Christ.
That was why emperor Maximillian ordered that Dimitar was thrown in a dungeon. Even locked in prison, St. Dimitar continued spreading his faith among the people and because of that he was murdered - speared in the ribs. After some time, during the digging of a ditch, St. Dimitar's holy remains, which radiated healing and fragrant "miro", were discovered.
In the church songs, St. Dimitar is glorified as a martyr, keeper of kings, man who disapproved wars and a harbor for those seeking help. These last images of Saint Dimitar find their own place in the folklore rituals.
On that day people who bear the name Dimitar, Dimitrina, Mitko or Dimo traditionally host great parties and, joined by their friends, celebrate their Name's Day.
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