Orthodox Bulgarians Marked "Sirni Zagovezni" Sunday

Society | March 9, 2003, Sunday // 00:00
Orthodox Bulgarians Marked "Sirni Zagovezni" Sunday Children enjoy the fire that they made at "Nasred Selo" square in Sofia quarter Knyazhevo on Sirni Zagovezni. Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (novinite.com)

"Sirni Zagovezni" is a popular Christian Orthodox holiday in Bulgaria. It took place this year on March 9 and marked the beginning of the Great Lent - the longest period of fasting throughout the year.

According to the ancient Christian tradition on that day people beg each other forgiveness for the transgressions done during the year. Usually the younger ask the older for forgiveness of their wrong-doings and getting it are also asked to forgive on the part of their parents, relatives, friends or just the people they live or work with.

In the past a special custom was being performed in the evening. A piece of halvah is tied on a long thread, hanging from the ceiling (a hard-boiled egg or some coal is an alternative). The thread is swayed around in a circle and the participants keep on trying to catch the lump in their mouth.

In the villages of Bulgaria, the "Kukeri" is an important masked ritual, performed on this day. They dance in the last days of the winter, just before nature comes back to life. The participants in this ritual are male only, dressed in sheepskin garments and wearing scary masks and chanove (copper bells) on their belts, dancing and singing songs and chants, with the intention to scare away the evil spirits or ghosts which people believed came back to the living ones in winter.

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