Bulgaria: The Day of Saint Demetrius marks a Turning Point in the Season and the Beginning of Winter
On October 26, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church honors the memory of Saint Demetrius and Prep. Dimitra Dorostolska. Bulgarian celebrate St. Demetrius Day or “Dimitrovden” – Димитровден.
The folk proverb says: "Saint Demetrius brings the winter, and Saint George brings the summer". According to belief, the first snowflakes fall from the saint's white beard. "When Dimitrov Day comes, so does the snow" – say the Bulgarians.
Saint Demetrius is an Orthodox saint. In the folk calendar, the holiday Dimitrovden marks the turning point in the season and the beginning of winter. According to the belief, at midnight on the eve of the holiday, the sky opens, after which the first snow is expected. The saint is considered the patron of winter, cold and snow.
Saint Demetrius was born in the 3rd century in the city of Thessaloniki, and his father was the then mayor. After his death, Emperor Maximinus Hercules assigned this post to Demetrius, who was received with great joy and respect by the townspeople. As governor of Thessaloniki, Demetrius openly professed and glorified the Christian faith. Dissatisfied with his behavior, the emperor Galerius threw him into a dungeon, and later, on October 26, 306, ordered him killed. Then the Christian church proclaimed him a martyr of the faith and a saint, and the inhabitants of Thessaloniki began to honor him as the patron saint of the city. The feast of Saint Demetrius has been celebrated in Thessaloniki since the 5th century, and soon after it was transferred to Thrace and Macedonia.
In the folk calendar, the celebration of Saint Demetrius is associated with a turning point in the season and the beginning of winter. According to belief, the first snowflakes fall from the saint's white beard. "St. Demetrius brings winter, and St. George brings summer" - says a Bulgarian proverb. Then the farmers put their plows under the eaves and arrange the firewood.
This day is also known as Mitrovden or Raspus. It ends the period for which seasonal workers such as cattlemen, shepherds are hired, and they are paid. Sometimes, in addition to the fixed sum, more clothes and a pair of turbans for each of the winter months are given as wages. The procurement of workers for the next year also begins. According to popular belief, from Dimitrov Day onwards, preparations for the so-called "mice holidays" begin. In the “Stara Planina” areas, the owners keep an eye out for the first guest who crosses the threshold of the house. If they are a good and wealthy person, they believe that the next year will be rich, healthy and fertile. If there is a full moon on the night before Dimitrovden, the bees will swarm and the hives will be full of honey. This night is also important for people looking for buried treasure. They believe that then the sky "opens" and the buried gems flash with a bluish flame.
It is also believed that Saint Demetrius is the brother of Archangel Michael - the patron of the afterlife, of dead ancestors. On October 26, lamb meat is prepared, rooster stew, apple pie, brandy, as well as various vegetable dishes are served on the table.
Today, the relics of St. Demetrius are preserved in the eponymous basilica in Thessaloniki, erected on his lobular site, and St. Demetrius is revered as the patron saint of the city of Thessaloniki. On the day of his memory, pilgrims from all over the world flock to the city.
The respect for the Great Martyr Demetrius of Thessalonica spread throughout the Balkan Peninsula and especially on Mount Athos, where fragments of his relics are preserved. In the iconography, he is depicted as a rider on a red horse, who kills the warlord Lee with his spear.
The name of St. Demetrius (Dimitar) is also connected with the history of the Bulgarian people. In 1185, during the two centuries of Byzantine slavery, the boyar brothers Asen and Peter announced in Tarnovgrad that they no longer recognized Byzantine authority. This happened on October 26, on the temple holiday of the church they built, named after St. Demetrius. Protected by him, the insurgents brought the struggle for independence and the restoration of Bulgarian statehood to a successful end: in the spring of 1187, after an unsuccessful siege of the town of Lovech, the Byzantine emperor signed a peace treaty that recognized the authority of Asen and Peter over Northern Bulgaria. Thus began the history of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. The martyr saint is one of the most revered in our country. Many churches throughout Bulgaria are dedicated to him, and on the day of his celebration, festive liturgies will be celebrated everywhere.
And don't forget to congratulate your relatives and friends who have the names Dimitar, Dimitrina, Dimo or Mitko and the like, who celebrate their name day on October 26.
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