Bulgaria Celebrates Army Valor on St. George's Day
Bulgaria celebrated Thursday, May 6, the Day of Saint George the Victorious, and the Day of the Bulgarian Army.
May 6 was pronounced Day of the Bulgarian army with a decision of the Bulgarian Cabinet in 1993. Since 1998 it has been marked as a national holiday, and non-working day.
Army Valor Day events are scheduled to take place around the country, including a national army parade in downtown Sofia.
Because of financial trouble of the Bulgarian Defense Minister, however, the 2010 Army Day parade will be significantly more modest than last year’s.
It will not feature any tanks or armored vehicles in order to save money from fuel, and only several fighter jets and assault helicopters will be witnessed at the event which started to draw a huge number of spectators in the recent years.
On the sidelines of the celebrations of the Day of Bulgarian army, May 6 marks also the national feast Gergyovden, the day of one of the most popular saints - St. George, who is among the few venerated by Christians and Muslims alike.
Saint George the Victorious (Pobedonosets), canonized by the Church because of his brave deeds, is usually painted on icons as riding a white horse with his lance stabbed in the throat of a beast - the dragon. Legend has it that the dragon used to attack the shepherds and their sheep and steal a sheep or a lamb. The shepherds were desperate. Then St. George appeared and killed the dragon.
The holy martyr St. George the Victor has been considered one of the most important Saints ever since Christianity became the official state religion in Bulgaria in the 9th century.
In Bulgaria St. George is the patron of spring verdure and fertility, and of shepherds and farmers. His Day, May 6, is believed to set in summer and the new farming cycle.
A common ritual is to cook and eat a whole lamb, which is an ancient practice possibly related to Slavic pagan sacrificial traditions and the fact that St. George is the patron saint of shepherds.
Special place on the table is attributed to the ritual Gergyovden bread. All sorts of bread are made for the feast - the cross bread, the shepherd's bread, the large ring-bread, as well as small ones, or the special ring-shaped bun baked by the young wife in the house.
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