Spectacular Horse Races Mark Bulgarian Holiday Todorovden
Bulgarians, all over the country mark Saturday, the holiday, known as Todorovden (the day of Todor or Theodor), which is also called the Horse Easter.
The Orthodox Church celebrates the day the first Saturday of the Easter Fast.
The legend tells on this day Saint Todor Tirone, dressed in nine furs, went to God to beg him for the summer to come. Because of this image, the holiday has turned into the day of the horse breeder and horse races.
At sun raise women bake and give ritual loaves, named "horse" or "hoof", because the dough is shaped like a horse or a hoof. The bread is given to neighbors and relatives to keep their horses healthy and strong during the year. Women compete to give the bread away the fastest possible, imitating horse movements.
Horse races are held all over Bulgaria in honor of the Saint. Men dress in new shirts, clean and decorate their horses before taking them to the race.
The fastest and best looking horse is decorated with wreaths and is the first one to head to the village, where a lass or a newly-wed woman meets the winner. A celebration takes place at the house of the horse owner. The festive meal includes round loafs of bread, mushroom soup, lentils.
Men named Bozhidar, Nayden, Todor, Theodor and women named Bogdana, Todorka, Theodora celebrate their name day on Horse Easter.
The holiday is a mixture of Orthodox religious beliefs and pagan rituals. Nevertheless it is always thrilling to watch the horse races during the day outside the city.
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