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Saint Nicholas Day

In Bulgaria, the 6th December is the day of Saint Nicholas (Nikulden) it is one of the most celebrated winter festivals to this day.

Many churches and monasteries are named after him. There are a selection of folk stories, but most conclude he is the patron saint of sailors, travellers and bankers and also master of the under water world and sea winds. He is a friend and protector of children, and guardian of family and family property.

Legend has it that he prevented sailors and voyagers coming into harms way by sea storms. Icons of Saint Nicholas were placed in the sea by wives praying the safe return of their husband sailors to shore.

December 6th also marks the end of the autumn fishing season, whereby the days catch is to be offered to the saint. The name Saint Nicholas means' conquering' and is considered an honoured patron by fishermen and this is why fish is eaten on this day.

The traditional fish eaten on this day is carp as it is regarded as Nicholas's servant. Ribnik is a recipe where the fish is wrapped in dough and for some will have been blessed at church or in the home before it is served, many homes will have food on the table all day open for guests and will not be cleared away until the end of the day.

In Bulgarian it is also a name day and will be celebrated by those called Nina, Nikolina, Nenka, Neno, Nikola, Nikolay and Kolyo.