Bulgarians Happy to Celebrate Both Love and Wine
Bulgaria has been marking two holidays on February 14 since the fall of communism in the late eighties, when the day of the sweethearts came to the country.
Previously completely ignored by lovebirds in Bulgaria, St. Valentine's Day enjoyed escalating popularity over the years of the country's transition to Western-like lifestyle.
Gradually, February 14 became the date for exchanging love messages across catholic countries and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers.
The date is now marked by sending poems and simple gifts such as flowers, hearts and teddy bears.
As lovers celebrate St Valentine's Day, many Bulgarians insist February 14 should be reserved for a traditional Bulgarian celebration - the feast of St. Trifon Zarezan, the patron of vine growing and wine producing.
The St. Trifon Zarezan day offers a nice alternative to those who don't have a loved one to share the holiday with, but can still find a reason to celebrate.
The professional holiday of vine-growers and wine-makers has been officially celebrated since 1962. When the Gregorian Calendar was officially introduced by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in 1968, the church services moved to February 1, but the Day of Vine and Wine is still commemorated on February 14.
According to old traditions, the culmination is the moment of choosing the "king of the vines" - usually a diligent vine-grower, who is thus said to sweep all good luck.
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