Bulgaria Honors St. Athanasius Half Past Winter
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church celebrates on Saturday, January 18, the Day of St. Athanasius, who is the ruler of snow and ice.
In Bulgarian folk beliefs, the holiday - known as Atanasovden - is said to mark the middle of winter, when the season starts to change over, setting the ground for spring.
Atanasovden, like the feast of St. Anthony on the previous day, is a holiday of the blacksmiths, ironmongers, cutters and shoeing smiths, as well as a holiday to show respect to those who are ill.
Therefore, Bulgarian tradition has it that early in the morning women would bake a small flat loaf of bread, decorated with two dogs, who keep the diseases away from people.
Those who bear the name of the saint (Atanas and derivatives) also celebrate on January 18.