On the levels next to some syllable
the maternity head lays down.
Grandmother's wife looked stern
helps her in her efforts.

Harm in a poor house too
the grandmother called to arrive,
happy to hug her mother
birth expected, desired.

"Babinden" - Anka Kelesheva

The word "grandmother", which in many cases young children say before "mom," is as old as the world. Today, it is seen as synonymous with wisdom, strength and a fighting spirit. The grandmother is an old woman who has come a long way in life, has learned loss, pain and joy, has seen a world touched by different human destinies. In the distant past, the term "grandmother" was also used as a title given to a person who deserved it by performing a valiant feat. Even today, in many Arab countries, people continue to use the phrase "Baba" when naming their mayors and leaders.

Babinden is one of the brightest women's holidays, dedicated to the midwives who helped through the so-called. "Babying" (or "feasting") on young inexperienced first-time brides. This holiday is associated with family values ​​and customs, with health, fertility, the continuation of kind. Babinden is also a celebration of sorcerers, herbalists and all who have the ability to heal the body and soul of man. The holiday is pagan in origin and dates back to Slavic times. In the Renaissance period he was venerated by the Bulgarians. According to the Orthodox calendar, Babinden is celebrated on 8 January and old style on January 21. Today, on 21's January, we celebrate "Maternity Aid Day" in honor of all those who help give birth to a new life, incl. obstetricians, gynecologists, neonatologists, also doulas.
According to the Bulgarian tradition, Babinden women, whom grandmothers gave birth to grandmothers at birth, gather at a grand table at the grandmother's home and pay homage to her through songs, dances, gifts, laughter and fun. Musicians are invited, dances are played, people are twisting. At this gathering, the midwife blesses the children she has raised. She is treated with deep reverence and gratitude. She was the woman with the greatest contribution to the protection of home and kind.

Legend of Babinden's origin

The origin of Babinden is related to the history of the Jewish people. During the XX-XVI centuries BC. the number of Israelites inhabiting Egypt began to increase significantly, which Pharaoh did not like. He feared that numerical superiority might give them the courage to rise up and win their freedom. So Pharaoh began to continually seek ways to suppress the Jewish people by imposing hard and tiring labor on him. His cruelty peaked when he ordered his midwives to kill the newborn Jews. Two grandmother's midwives, Fuya and Shifra, stand out in the story, displaying enviable boldness at the time and opposing the will of Pharaoh. Instead of killing the babies, they put all their heart, knowledge and experience in the name of a happy birth.

How did Babinden celebrate? Here are some of the customs.

Moment of custom Babinden (Senokos village, Dobrich)

Although traditions diverge from different parts of Bulgaria, the basic lines are always followed. Early in the morning, Babinden's midwife began a tour and visited all the families she assisted in giving birth to children. If there is a baby in the house, the grandmother bathes him and the older children wash his eyes. She brings with her honey, millet and red wool. After washing the eyes of the children, the grandmother takes the honey, millet and red wool and smears the children on the faces. This ritual is done to keep them healthy, cheerful, active and have a long life. Then the grandmother goes home and prepares a table to welcome the mothers. At noon, the mothers go to the fountain and pour water into a cauldron, in which they put a wrist of geranium and basil (symbols of fertility, health and wellness), take a new towel, soap, various gifts and goodies and go to Grandma's home.
The mothers kiss the grandmother's hand and pour water from the water with geranium to wash. They put soap through their hands and, and wish with the ease with which it slides, so that the children are born. Then she is presented with gifts. Each bride has prepared fresh pugach and banitsa, they bring wine, brandy, roast chicken and sweets. If the grandmother's gratitude goes deeper, the gifts can be richer and richer. The grandmother kites the bride with a glove of garter, tied with red and white thread. Together they arrange the table and sit down to have fun. In the fun women dance, sing songs, hook up with each other, play scenes. The grandmother puts red peppers on her neck, takes the tile and smokes under the brides' skirts, expressing wishes that most often have a sexually symbolic meaning. This ritual is made for health and fertility so that women can easily become pregnant, wear and bear more children. The name is intended to open the door to the sacrament and to cause pure power in the souls. Both then and today, people still believe that the grandmother's word (calling) carries a special weight and magic. Men do not participate in the celebration.

At Babinden, the grandmother's bathing ritual is central to his purifying power. The women take the grandmother to the nearby river or fountain where they bathe her. In the evening the feast is carried over to the village square. A choir twists and turns, allowing men to take part. Women make cynical jokes and jokes, and men have to endure them with patience. When the fun begins to subside and Babinden is over, they all send her grandmother home, say goodbye, kiss her hand, and go home.

According to popular belief, the midwife is associated with the supernatural because it helps the new life to emerge safely in the world of people. In the past, they used to call it by many names - medicine man, healer, lifeguard, sorceress, herbalist. She was also called a witch, with only positive meaning in this name. The witch is the most skilled woman who has a cure for everything. She knew herbs as well as the exact words and names that heal the body and soul. Babinden notes the end of the holidays associated with the Nativity of Christ, the end of the dirty days. This is why ritual purification with water is considered so important and sacred. People believed that using the water purifies the link between the inanimate and the living, and the grandmother's ritual bathing will increase fertility and ensure a smooth birth throughout the year.

These rituals are rarely found in today's fast-paced lifestyle of Bulgarians, but in some parts of Bulgaria Babinden will still be revered, albeit more modestly. The women gather around a lavish table and spend pleasant moments of fun. Thus they pay tribute to the sacred moment of birth and the power of the female spirit.

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