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St. Todor's Day
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By tradition, the first week of the Long Lent is called Todor’s week in Bulgaria.  Each day in this week of strict fasting has its name, rather curious at that – Clean Monday, Black Tuesday, Mad Wednesday, Giddy Thursday, Todor’s Saturday, while the most important one, the Sunday, is called Todoritsa or Horse Easter.

St. Todor’s Day is celebrated in different ways across Bulgaria.  Let us tell you about a ritual performed on this day in Western Bulgaria.  Young brides, who married only last winter, have to be up with the lark on Todor’s Day. They are to hurry and bake a ritual bread, then start for a church or a temple in the vicinity of the village. The young housewives are to arrange the breads and perform a special ceremony: with a long white scarf bound across her forehead, every young woman has to bow 3 times in front of her mother-in-law.  This is supposed to put an end to the period of reverential silence that the lass has to keep sometimes for months to show veneration and respect.  This ritual ends up with a chain dance and singing in which brides and mothers-in-law join hands.

In Eastern Bulgaria, St. Todor’s Day is one of the three days during the Long Lent when young maids go outdoors, around meadows near the village to sing, play, run, chase about and sing songs summoning the spring to set in.

In the past, during Todor’s week, unmarried girls and bachelors would take a day outside the village, making swings, dancing and singing songs to pick at lazy maids and lads.

Todor’s Day is also known as Horse Easter. Let us tell you why. On this day, young bachelors are to take their horses out to a green meadow.  Horse races start then. Distinguished Bulgarian ethnographer of the 19th c. Dimitar Marinov once wrote: “The fastest horse, all decked in wreathes, paced ahead, amidst drums and whistles.  Everyone would gather at the hub of the village where lasses and lads start a grandiose horo dance encircling the horses and the riders.  The horse-race winner would then reach his home and, there, a maid or his young bride would welcome him with a white pot of water or wine.”

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