Bulgaria's Christian Orthodox Honor All Souls Day
All Bulgarian Orthodox Christians honor Saturday All Souls Day by performing and attending memorial services for the Faithful Departed.
According to the Bulgarian tradition, women boil and sweeten grain to take to the services and hand it to other attendees. The tradition also includes wine and bread while in recent times cookies, crackers and pastries have been added.
The services are held at the cemetery, the church or at home. At the cemetery the priest usually performs the Parastas (Panikhida) - a liturgical observance in honor of the departed which is served in the Eastern Orthodox Church. If the service is for an individual, it will often take place at their graveside. If it is a general commemoration of all the departed, or if the individual's grave is not close by, the service will take place in a church, in front of a special "memorial table".
According to Orthodox beliefs, the Souls of the Departed come back on this day and stand at their own graveside. For this reason their relatives bring them wine and food. The ritual giving away of food to other people is believed to help satiate the Departed's hunger. The relatives also light a candle to illuminate the Departed's road so that they do not get lost in the dark.
The day after All Souls Day, is the so-called Sunday of the Last Judgment or the second Sunday before Great Lent. The second Sunday before Great Lent is observed on a different date each year because it depends on the date of the Orthodox Easter. The Second day before Lent is the first holiday of those from the Easter cycle.
The Sunday before Lent is the last day when meals cooked with meat are allowed on the table. On Monday, Christian Orthodox begin observing a 40-day lent until Easter.
The Eastern Orthodox Church dedicates several days, (usually four), throughout the year to the dead, mostly on Saturdays, because of Jesus' resting in the tomb on Saturday.
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