On January 1 Bulgarians Celebrate Saint Basil's Day
On January 1, Bulgaria’s Orthodox Church celebrates the Circumcision of the Lord. Circumcision is an Old Testament sacrament that began at the beginning of the second millennium before Christ. It was introduced by the forefather Abraham as a sign of the covenant between God and God's chosen people, but it also appears as a type of Holy Baptism. This year, the Circumcision of the Lord coincides with the Sunday before Epiphany, when Orthodox Christians prepare for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
On the first of January, the memory of St. Basil, Archbishop of Caesarea Cappadocia, who died on the same day, is celebrated. Saint Basil the Great was a famous church teacher, Christian thinker, philosopher. Today, the memory of the holy martyr Basil of Ankir, who was subjected to cruel torture because of his faith in Christ, is also honored. On this day, all Orthodox Christians are invited to take a prayerful part in the celebrations. The first of January is also known as Basil's Day, Vasilovden, Vasilitsa or Survaki and is celebrated throughout the country.
Vasil, Vasilka, Vasilia, Vasilena, Veselin, Veselina, Vesela, Vasili, Vasilina, Vasiyana, Vaso, Vlada, Vlastin, Vlastina, Vlastomir, Vlaiko, Vatsa, Valo, Vala, Vto, Tsarena, Tsaril, Tsarila have a name day.
Folk tradition connects the feast of St. Basil the Great with the custom of Survaki. Despite this small essential difference with carol groups, young men gather on St. Basil's Day to go around the houses at night and survak (beat with a stick) their owners. On the holiday itself, groups of children also pass by, who also greet the owners of the houses. The survakane itself is a kind of continuation of the carol blessings. Both carolers and survakar groups have a leader and a person who acts as the donkey and collects the money and other gifts. And again, just as the carolers bring with them krivaks, so the survakars on St. Basil's Day bring cornflowers decorated with popcorn, dried fruit and wool. In some places, instead of dogwood, pear is also used, i.e. twigs of a pear tree.
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