Bulgarians Celebrate Palm Sunday
The Orthodox world celebrates one of the great Christian holidays - the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem. Days before his death on the Cross, Jesus Christ was solemnly welcomed in the holy city. The crowd greeted him with palm branches. This is how the tradition of distributing consecrated willow branches in temples was established. The holiday is also called Vrabnitsa or Tsvetnitsa and has the most name days in Bulgaria - over 346 thousand people.
The Gospel texts tell how, at his last coming to Jerusalem, Christ was received royally and with the honors predicted by the Old Testament prophets. Many wanted to see the one who raised Lazarus the day before.
With rapturous shouts and palm branches, children and adults greeted the Savior. In malice and envy, the high priests resented and conspired to kill him and Lazarus.
"The Lord is entering Jerusalem on a donkey. I hope we welcome him in our hearts and not say 'crucify him' and be with him always."
As a memory of the solemn event in the holy city, the tradition of distributing lit willow branches was established in the temples. They are taken to the homes for blessing.
"We celebrate all of us with the names of flowers, with the names of trees. I will go to mass, experience the great feast, then I will celebrate my name day".
In the temples, lit willow branches are distributed. Father Doncho Alexandrov from the "St. Athanasius" church in Varna talks about the meaning of this tradition.
"We carry these willow branches in our homes with this faith that we have witnessed Christ's entry into our lives, it is a sign of our faith and a blessing that we carry into our home from our Savior".
For Lovech, Tsvetnitsa is the town's unofficial holiday, which gathers thousands of hunters and guests with a traditional craft fair, a national assembly of folk art, presentation of local customs and lots of fun.
Since the 18th century, craftsmen have been presenting Bulgarian crafts on the square in the old "Varosha" district, and tradition dictates that each of the guests of the holiday should buy something for health and luck.
On the two stages in "Varosha" and the courtyard of the former barracks, the national folklore assembly continues with the participation of independent groups, community centers, folklore formations and individual performers.
After the festive service in the cathedral in the center of Lovech, the festive procession will leave, and the "Kumichene" custom will be recreated on the Botoyavlenski bridge.
Ethnographer Silvia Vuteva told more about the ceremonial ritual.
"The girls who went to Lazarov's Day gather in a separate place. From there they go to the river. The kumichen is done with a doll, ritual bread or a willow wreath. Each girl cuts a thin crust from the bread and drops it on the water. Whose morsel went the farthest a girl recognizes herself as a Kumitsa or leader. The same rite is now done with the willow wreath. According to folk beliefs, once they have a Kumitsa, they cannot be abducted by a dragon, and the upcoming marriages will only be for love.
In the evening on the megdan, the famous Lazarus dance is played, so that you can close the luck, not let it out.
Today, Tsvetnitsa for Lovech is a celebration of youth, beauty, flowers, positive emotions, goodness. Let's see relatives, friends, acquaintances, charged with the positive, spring mood".
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