Bulgarians Celebrate Saint Andrew’s Day, Young Girls Guess Whom They Will Marry
On November 30, the Orthodox Church honors the memory of St. Andrew the Apostle (Andrew the First-Called in the Orthodox tradition). In the Bulgarian folk calendar the holiday is known as Andreevden. It is considered one of our most cherished holidays.
On 29 November after midnight the unmarried girls read fortune trying to guess who will be their future husband and how soon he will appear. Many people believe that on the eve of Andreevden mystical things happen. And if you wish something from the bottom of your hear it will come true.
In the folk calendar Andreevden is directly associated with the transition from autumn to winter. It is believed that St. Andrew is the patron saint and ‘commander’ of bears. In many folk legends it is said that he appeared before the people riding a bear, banishing winter and long nights. Bulgarians also call the holiday Edray, Edrinden or Bear’s Day
One legend tells about a holy hermit Andrei, who lived in the mountains. He had a field that gave him all the earthly goods. Once, however, a bear ate the only ox which helped him to plough the hard soil. He Andrew got angry and and harnessed the bear into the plough, and from then on the saint became lord of the bears.
That is why in the old time on November 30 Bulgarians celebrated Bear’s Day as well. On this day, like in most holidays which mark the transition from autumn to winter, women did not have to work about the house. On the eve of Andreevden, women boiled corn, beans, barley, oats – everything that grows in the field and kept saying " Like boiled grains swell may our crops grow".
It is believed that since Andreevden, the day begins to grow by as much as a barley grain. On the table ther should be bread and and meals made of some grain – corn, barley, beans, lentils. Since now is the time of Christmas fasting, everything on the table is lean. If it snows on Andreevden, the winter will be cold and frosty. And the crops will be rich.
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