photo: Michael Anfang

The testament of the old Bulgarians to restore the balance of power between the earthly and the afterlife.

In the Bulgarian folk calendar Tudor Sunday (Tuduritsa, Tudur Sunday, Triple Sunday, Dry Sunday, Crazy Sunday, Hungry Sunday, Black Sunday, Deaf Sunday, Mummer's Sunday) is called the first week of Lent, and together with Mesni and Sirni Zagovezni and Todorovden, form a single holiday complex. Tudur week there is no fixed date - it is triode (mobile) holiday and is associated with the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. This year Todorova week begins on March 15 and ends with festive kushi on St. Todor's Day (Saturday, the 20th), hence its name.


According to folklore, at this time, "the earth is on the sieve." A hostile and dangerous period in which chaos, confusion, sinfulness and temptation reign. During this hatalia (bad) and dispersed (unclean) week, one should not go out at night, as goblins, karakonjuli and other unclean forces roam outside, led by “St. Todor on a white horse and grandmother Tudoritsa. When they meet someone in the dark, they most often harm him with various diseases and sufferings, such as paralysis, deafness, dizziness.


Traditionally St. Todor is defined as a saint-demon and is most often described as an old man, a night rider in white clothes, asymmetrical (lame, deaf, blind, without a nose, etc.) and "vampire" dead. It is because of his connection with the underworld and death that the saint-horseman is conceived as a mediator between the two worlds. He is the one who destroys chaos and restores balance.

In this period of disturbed harmony, the woman is again at the center of the holiday rituals. She "holds and leads" the holiday, she is the one who crosses the line between the safe and dangerous world to provoke the evil forces of the afterlife and through a number of specific rituals to restore order to the earth. Each of the days of That Sunday is associated with various beliefs and the resulting prohibitions.

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Kukovden, Chisti, Pesi, Kuchi, Kukerov, Gulyam Monday


Monday in the folk tradition is accepted as a starting point - as your week starts, so it will continue. That is why today it is good to start new endeavors, to take, not to give. Monday is usually considered lucky, but not the one during Todor's week. In the Eastern Rhodopes it is also called covered because of the belief that God "closes the souls of the dead."


On Maundy Monday, the whole house is cleaned and the garbage is thrown out on the street - so the fleas are thrown out of the house. The house and outbuildings are surrounded by burning straw to protect themselves from snakes and lizards. In the Strandzha region, rags are burned to burn the eyes of mice and snakes. In Thrace, they prepare and distribute to their relatives a special ritual eel bread, to prevent snake bites.


All dishes in the house are washed with ashes to remove their oil. The owner of the house prepares lean food for the whole week, as it is forbidden to cook until Todorovden. In other places it is just the opposite - on this day no fire is lit, no cooking, no kneading, so that there is no drought and mana in the summer.

From Maundy Monday begins the collection of eggs that will be painted for Easter. On Gulyam Monday, a special powdered salt is prepared - a mixture of crushed roasted corn, savory, salt, hot peppers and pepper, used mainly during the Easter fast. From this day begins the so-called. trimirne - three days of strict fasting without food and water. It is believed that through the three worlds a person atones for his sins and secures a place in Paradise. If someone dies during a trio, they are buried outside the cemetery so that they do not "reincarnate" and become vampires.


Monday is also called Pesi, because ritual practices to prevent rabies are performed. These traditions are based on the animalistic understandings of our ancestors about diseases that, according to them, can be banished by violence.


In Eastern and Southern Bulgaria the custom of barking dogs is still practiced today. In ancient times, the dog was the object of a cult, the personification of the "domesticated wolf", of pure space. It is also associated with the world of the dead, and the ritual is understood as an attempt to restore the balance between the two worlds (earthly and beyond) in a moment of complete chaos, such as this transitional period, both in terms of seasons and the beginning Easter fast.


The run is done outside the city, in a high place. A swing is prepared and the dog is tied through the shoulders, the rope is twisted and it is swung three times. Elsewhere in his tail, an empty tin can be tied so that he can drive away diseases with a noise, and he chases around the neighborhood.


The first day of Todor's week is also called Kukerov, because of the mummers' procession. In many areas, to this day, a group of men, led by a "king," dressed in special leather garments, leather or cardboard masks, belted wooden weapons, and vats hung on their waists, roam the village. They stop people, scare them, and visit every house, making a loud noise with their bells. In Ikindia, in the village square, they raise their "king" to a cyclist and ritually plow and sow the land. Then, in wrestling, jokes, and ringing, they all gather at the "king's" house, where a lean but rich meal awaits them.


In some areas, the day is associated with Blagovets and the first cuckoo's stalk - hence its name Kukovden.

Bad, Black, Deaf, Dry, Usovsky Tuesday


Traditionally, "Tuesday-prisoner" is considered a difficult day, because of the notion that then nothing goes, and that of This week is considered one of the worst of the year. According to folklore, a child born on this day will be unhappy and unlucky.


On the Black Tuesday you don't go on the road, you don't sow, you don't make agreements, you don't start anything new, because it will be unsuccessful. No work is undertaken so that there are no diseases and deafness. Women do not wash their hair so that their family does not suffer evil. Clothes for a man are not washed or made (in folk beliefs the clothes are considered as a "double" of man).


By tradition of Dry Tuesday with a ritual pie the clouds are appeased to bring rain in the summer. From the bread smeared with honey is thrown on the roof of the house, called the clouds. One piece is set aside for both the fields and the river from which the Rainbow drinks water. The rest is eaten on foot (standing), as a sign of respect for the clouds, water and all natural elements. On this day, women dip their fingers in soapy water and wash red cloth or a woman's towel to give the cattle milk throughout the year.


In the Pleven region they call it Usovsky Tuesday and observe a ritual to appease the demon Usov, who dries the feet of domestic animals. One leg of a three-legged stool is smeared with tallow, wrapped in rags, and tied with red thread, called to dry the legs of the chair, not the cattle.


Crazy, Trimirna, Black, Negotiated Wednesday


In folklore, Wednesday is a day of madness. It is also called halved, because then a person can halve his mind, ie. to go crazy. The halving is also associated with the notion that everyone has an Angel on their right shoulder and a Devil on their left shoulder who guide them. If a person has a "weak Angel", the Devil prevails, darkens his mind and he goes crazy.


Negotiating Wednesday puts an end to the strict three-day fast that began on Monday. Everyone who has trimized, visits the local church, purifies himself, takes holy water and feeds on boiled wheat - kolyvo. In the evening, relatives and friends gather at the home of the three-year-old to celebrate with a rich fasting meal. It is believed that if a person works on Crazy Wednesday, he will be lame.


Vertigo Thursday, Vertigò


"Thursday-non-Thursday" is also considered a bad day in popular opinion. It is believed that work started on this day is doomed to failure, and the one who undertook it will become crazy or dizzy. That is why, for safety purposes, bread is kneaded and smoked with incense for health. It is broken into pieces for each member of the family, and placed in the manger of animals. A piece is also set aside for a remedy for dizziness (dizzy) during the year.


In some areas they prepare small ones ants drinks. Some of them are distributed, and the rest are eaten in the dump - so the house is saved from an invasion of ants.


On the Vertigò do not sow or plant a tree, for it will dry up. Construction of a house does not begin. You don't buy cattle because they will run away. Do not work in the field so as not to be hit by hail. Beans, lentils and other legumes are not prepared so as not to be attacked by worms.


Chamotte, Black, Lame, Deaf, Dry Friday


A day of trouble and sin, Friday is the worst and most dangerous of the week. Then Christ was crucified, the head of John the Baptist was cut off, Cain killed Abel. That is why strict fasting is observed in order to atone for the sins of the ancestors.


In folklore, Friday is considered mysterious and cursed, especially in its dark part. It is believed that dreams are then prophetic and come true. There is no work on Black Friday, because the work will not argue and will always get complicated. Women do not cut their hair and do not bathe, so as not to have a headache and not to become deaf. One should not set out on a journey to avoid trouble.


On the eve of St. Todor's Day, in many areas the housewives distribute to relatives and neighbors an odd number of soda cakes spread with honey. Elsewhere, peas and hot water are placed in a bowl under the family icon. Tudur Assumption is also observed - fasting meals are served for the souls of the dead.


St. Todor's Day, St. Todor's Saturday, Horse Easter


With the coming of the festive Saturday, the prohibitions and restrictions from This week. On this day, the object of cult worship is the horse, the horseshoe is its complementary ritual symbol, and the culmination of the holiday are the so-called. kushii - ceremonial horse races.


Early in the morning, the owner of the house braids the animal's tail and mane, decorates it with colorful woolen tassels and flowers, and takes it to a watering hole. Then they go to the square, where they take part in the races. The winner is rewarded with a new shirt or towel, and his horse - with a wreath and a new bridle. The leader rides the whole village with his horse to congratulate the holiday.


On St. Todor's Day, women prepare Tudor lentils and knead ritual breads with yeast, called finally or hoof, of which is also given to horses. Wheat is boiled, which is blessed in the church. After kushite they all gather for a dance at the winner's house, where a rich lean table awaits them. An important ritual on this day is bathing children at sunrise to keep them healthy. Women must wash their hair to be beautiful and shiny like a horse's mane.


On Todorova Saturday everyone celebrates with the names Todor, Todorka, Teodor, Teodora, Dora, Dorothea, Bozhidar, Bozhidara, Julian, Yuliana, Theo, Thea.

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