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New Year Celebrations in Bulgaria

New Year's Eve is a huge celebration. People crowd into bars and restaurants and friends homes to party.

At the stroke of midnight after the President has addressed the nation on TV, people welcome the New Year by lighting fire works and the church bells ring.

New Year's Day

New Years Day is known as Survaki and is dedicated to St. Basil. Good wishes for the year ahead are exchanged and friends and families visit one another. People also start the New Year by wearing new clothes.

This traditional celebration takes place on New Year Eve in Western Bulgaria, the Central Balkan Range and some regions around the Danube. This is the second Christmas dinner and on the table will include a feast of meat dishes,a pig's head,a flat cake and cheese pastry.The cheese pastry will have fortune slips, it will be turned 3 times and then each person takes the piece in front of them. The oldest member will cense and split the warm flat bread and give to each person in order of age.The pig's head is served as the second course, it is also only on this day 1st January - Vasil's day - that pork is served and censed.


Throughout the rest of Bulgaria, this celebration is held on Midsummer Day. Ladouvane, is the festival where young girls looking for a husband dance and boil herbs. Early on the morning of New Years Eve, young village girls known as Prustenarki collect the rings of all the young village girls and add them along with the symbols of fertility, oats and barley into a large pot of spring water, which was fetched by a young girl who had to remain silent on the journey back. This spawned the name ‘mulchana voda', or ‘silent water'. The rings are tied together with red thread and a bunch of foliage including ivy and basil. The pot is left outside and the girls dance around it. Their songs forecast happy marriages and finding Mr Right or having a healthy family, but none of the songs are direct in their meaning- a riddle is made around the trade or character of the desired husband e.g. a girl wishing for a man ‘who rides on a horse, and holds a falcon' wanted someone of wealth and high standing, whereas a girl singing about ‘golden bracelets jingling on the bed sheet' was singing about a goldsmith. In some areas of Bulgaria the ritual now includes unmarried men who give either rings or penknives to be included in the pot. Ladouvane is followed by Vassilitza , which is a ritual fortune telling, in which the girls future happiness is predicted by a wise village woman.champers


Instead of carol singers, Bulgarians send round the Sourvakari, a group of young men who visit each house in the village ands sing songs and wish everyone a Happy New Year. In some villages the Sourvakari wait until New Years Day. Groups of children visit each house and tap the occupants on the back with a twig known as a Sourvachka. The twig is bent into circles and decorated with popcorn, dried peppers, handkerchiefs and wool. They wish each resident health happiness and success for the coming year. In return the children are given sweets, cake and money and many people tie beautiful handkerchiefs to each child's Sourvachka.

St Sylvesters Day

January 2nd is dedicated to St Sylvester and traditionally this was the day that the young girls who participated in Ladouvane could confess who they really liked. Before sunrise, the unmarried men of the village would enter the outbuildings of the girls they liked and clean them. The girls would dance in the village and give tokens of their love to the boys they liked. In some areas the girls family would invite the boy to lunch as a sign of their approval.