The ritual of 'survakane' Christmas Feast Days SOU Vasil Levski and First National Center of Dyslexia Bulgaria, Rousse
KOLEDA • Christmas Feast Days(Rozhdestvo) • Winter Feast Days from December 24 - January 1 • During In the winter solstice occurs the long feast of the Kolenda, so well known amongst Slavonic nations, which the Bulgarians call Kulada, Koleda; it is the great time for all kinds of divinatory rites and incantations, especially amongst young girls who are anxious to know who are to be their husbands. During its whole duration, which includes Christmas (or as the Bulgarians call it Domouz Kirma, the Feast of Pigs, because on that day every family kills one of these animals), all songs which are sung must terminate each verse with the refrain, "Kulada, hy Kulada:" and as it is at this period that the elementary spirits are most powerful and active, the peasants are obliged to take every precaution against them; no carts must be left without at least one log of wood in them, and no water-vessels entirely empty for fear that some demon should take possession of them, and by his his presence render them too heavy to be lifted.
25–27 December - KOLEDA (Christmas Feast days) (Rozhdestvo) • Bulgarians celebrate Christmas for three days. In the past, on the first day, after going to church, in the village square goes a bidding for the buns baked by the girls. It was a matter of honour for a young man, who was in love with a girl, to buy off her bun from the staninik, no matter how much he had to pay. In the town of Yambol the carol-singers foods used since times immemorial. Virgil writes that when Aeneas got off his ship at Latium he came across a pig with its piglets. He killed them and made an offering to the gods. That is why he is called "pious Aeneas". But like all people in antiquity, he gave to the gods the blood and the smoke above the altar, and the rest he ate himself. For a long time pork was taken as the food of the poor. In the houses of the rich they used only some selected parts of the animal – the hind legs, the head and the tail. Old myths identify Adonis with wheat and the snout of the wild boar which kills him with the sickle. The seed is “killed” but after “death” a new life is born. This is actually the natural cycle of agriculture, of the plant and the animal world. For that reason in old frescoes and mosaics the pig is the symbol of fertility. In Old Greek the word for “pig” means “womb”. It is often present in myths about death and resurrection. Naturally, with the years it lost its importance as a symbol and became a domestic animal that satisfies the gastronomic tastes at holiday tables.
25–27 December - KOLEDA (Christmas Feast days) (Rozhdestvo) • The first day of Christmas is the Nameday of all whose name begins with “R” – Radka, Radko, Radostin, Radost, Russi, Rumen, Rumyana. The second day, is the day of those who have the names of Hristo, Hristina, Yosif. The third day of Christmas is Stefan’s Day. Nameday of Stefan, Stefanka, Stoil, Stoyan, Stoyanka, Stanimir. • The ones who have a name day are given gifts and bathed, and people sing songs and play the horo dance. The last dance in the square is the “Christmas buenek”, which is also known as the “Yambol buenek” for this is the only place where carol-singers perform this dance. Folk legends say that if you borrow salt on Christmas and don’t return it, you will have trouble with your eyes. If your ear aches on Christmas this is an indication that an angel has passed by you. And you have to make the sign of the cross three times and whatever you think of will come true. Children must not play with fire on Christmas for they will wet their bed the whole year. You must not count the stars on that night or your hands will be covered with warts. After the long Christmas fasting people eat some of the Christmas offering – the pig – after church.
Winter Feast Days from December 25 - January 1 • Through the centuries Bulgarian people have modelled their holidays and all traditional customs with love and care. Through the centuries the traditions have given people the opportunity to create beauty and taste beauty, and have also helped them grow spiritually.Winter holiday festivities start with Christmas and the very preparation for the holiday. Christmas has two ingredients – the festive table and the Christmas rites. On Christmas Eve each woman is supposed to arrange a variety of meatless dishes, dried plums, walnuts, baked pumpkin, apples, honey, freshly baked bread and many other items. The oldest lady in the family divides the rite bread and gives each member of the family a small piece of it, usually with a blessing for health. A big tree chunk called “budnik” burns in the fireplace during the whole night – a symbol of the never-setting sun.
Winter Feast Days from December 25 - January 1 • In the Slavonic pagan calendar, Christmas represented the revival of the sun, which started shining brighter after the winter cycle and the day became longer. After a long-term struggle, the Christian church has managed to destroy that pagan holiday by fusing it with the Birth of Christ festivities, or Christmas – 25 December.Carol singers called "koledari" (a group of young men, bachelors and boys) walk along the streets, visit the neighbouring houses and sing songs for glorification and blessing of the family. Everything ever said or symbolically done on Christmas Eve has the meaning of a prayer for fertility, rich harvest and well-being, happiness for the family, and health and fortune for every single member.
Winter Feast Days from December 25 - January 1 • The celebration of the New Year’s Day and Vasilyovden (Jan.1) is accompanied by different rites, the most characteristic and exciting of which is the "singing of the rings", the “survakane” and the cheese pastry with the "fortunes" inside. The night before New Year’s Day, the young single women are supposed to gather around a kettle filled with water and oats and a cornel-tree twig to which they attach their maiden rings by means of a red string. The next day, with songs and blessings, the ritual of taking the rings out of the kettle starts, as well as calling fortunes for each young woman – how lucky she would be and when she would get married. • On the first day of the New Year the children visit the neighbouring houses, carrying with them a “survachka” (i.e. a cornel-tree twig decorated with bright woolen threads and small coins). The children then bless all the members of the families they visit, wishing them health and fortune all through the new year.The winter holiday festivities manifest people's creativeness and eagerness to amuse themselves. Moreover, holiday traditions are passing on wisdom and experience, cultural values and moral virtues from generation to generation ...
Winter Feast Days from December 25 - January 1 • Christmas celebrations start on 24th December and continue until Stefanovden. For most people the Small Christmas is a bigger holiday than the following ones because that is the evening of Christ's birth. Children are the ones that enjoy it the most. Christmas Eve is the first censed evening. The most important traditions are the budnik, the table with ritual breads, the Christmas meals and the ritual singing of Christmas carols- koleduvane. The budnik is an oak or a pear tree cut and brought home by a young man to keep the fire up throughout the night. Bringing it in the man asks: "Do you praise the young God?" • The women answer: "We praise him, we praise him! Welcome!" The man adds: "I am home and God is with me!" At one of the ends of the tree there is a hole, which is full of olive oil, wax and incense. That end is wrapped in a linen or cotton sheet and the budnik is put up by the fireplace. Meanwhile the women are singing folk songs:
Winter Feast Days from December 25 - January 1 • "Oh, you tree, straight tree, where have you grown so thin, so thin and tall? I have grown up there, on the mountain, on the hill, by the fairy lake. A dark-eyed shepherd cut me, brought me here to sough me by the fire place, by the table. I am a tree, a golden tree, a golden fertile tree. I will grow tall up to the sky, my branches will touch the ground, my leaves will be like pearls, • my flowers will be like pure silver, my vintage will be like gold. The young God will come down to me, He will give good gifts- a pearl to the lass, pure silver to the mother, gold to the father, gold- a house full of children, of lambs, of calves, of horses, of kids, of pigs, of light-winged bees, of live, health and happiness… Glorify the young God"
Budnik • - From the tree that has been cut for the budnik people make stakes for fencing the fields, to protect them from being robbed by tramps and magicians. There are three kinds of ritual breads: real Christmas breads (bogovitsa, kolak, svetets (saint), krustash, Pogacha), breads made by hosts (gumno, kolak, kashara, cherkovnik, bachva, bojichnik, ralo) and Christmas breads (kravaj - writhed.
'survakane' • Tradicii is the first day of Christmas and the last of the year for which people say that encloses the circle. Families gather on the table with meat meals on it, sing songs and have fun. In some parts of Bulgaria the young families visit their first witnesses, godfathers and parents. In other places the holidays of the mice start at that day and continue until Krustovden. The restrictions that are specific for the holiday Mrasnite dni (Mrasni Dni) the Dirty days) are strongly observed. Church Holiday: According to the Gospel, on this day Jesus Christ was born in a cave in Bethlehem. Ritual Table: 7,9 or 11 meatless dishes are served.
'survakane' • On Vasilovden the ritual of 'survakane' takes place. This is one of the few traditional rituals which have made their place in the modern lifestyles. It is performed by children and is very popular (this is when they receive their new year's presents).The "survakane' is a ritual tapping on the back with a stick. The sticks must be made of cornel-tree (a bush, actually) and decorated with popcorn, dried fruits and coloured treads. While the child taps with the stick, he or she says (some variation of):"Let the year be blessed and joyous,with green grain on the fields,big grape on the vine,yellow cob on the corn,red apple in the orchard,full house of silk;be healthy and merrytil next year and forever!"Everyone repeats 'til next year and forever" ("dogodina do amina").
'survakane' • Often even little children who cannot hold the survachka themselves or cannot talk, are helped by their parents or older siblings. Kids and parents, or more often grandparents, make the "survachka" themselves, even though you can buy one too.Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of one myself, so I looked up the web, and found this one.On this day celebrate Vasil, Vasila, Vasilka, Veselina, Veselka.