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Bulgaria

07 January - Ivanovden


On 7th January the Orthodox Church celebrates the Day of Saint John the Baptist, who baptized Jesus Christ in the Jordan River.

The feast is called Ivanovden (John is Ivan in Bulgarian, so Ivanovden means the Day of John). It is a traditional Bulgarian holiday, part of the festive cycle around Christmas and New Year.

The 7th of January is a name-day of everyone named Ivan, Vanyo, Vanya, Ioan, Ioanna, Ivaylo, Ivo, Ivona, Kaloyan, Yanna and so on. These names mean "God's blessing".

Essential for that day is the bathing ritual for good health that is performed on Yordanovden/Epiphany day and continues on Ivanovden. It is believed that the water on this day has purifying and sacred power.

That day is connected with marital rituals, as well. The newly-wed men are bathed by the best man at their wedding, or the bride’s brother. Therefore, bathing can be seen as an element of the post-nuptial rituals, thus ending the wide range of various marital rituals during the year.

Saint Ivan (John) is a patron saint of “brotherhood”, so on that day the men perform the so-called "Ivanovstvo" ritual: they step in the glowing embers with their right bare foot and after that they become fellow-brothers.

Traditionally, on the 7th of January people, who has a name-day organize great celebrations with rich tables and a lot of guests. The ritual table on that day includes the following dishes: boiled wheat, cooked beans, stewed dried fruit, banitsa (cheese pastry), baked blood sausage, baked loukanka sausage, pork ribs cooked with cabbage and other local or traditional Bulgarian meals.

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