Bulgarian Orthodoxism · History · Traditions


So on the 6th of January Bulgarians celebrate Jordanovden, and on the next day, the 7th of January it´s time for the celebration of Ivanovden.

What is Ivanovden?

Ivanovden is the day when The Bulgarian Orthodox Church acknowledge John the Baptist who baptized Jesus Christ in the river of Jordan (Jordanovden honors the ritual when Jesus Christ was born and God revealed himself on the sky as a bird). It was John the Baptist that recognized and pointed out Jesus as the Mesiah– the savier and the Messenger of God. St John the Baptist is one the most revered saints in Bulgaria.

In Bulgaria they refer to John the Baptist as Ivan, which explains the name- The Day of Ivan (John).

Photo: http://www.standartnews.com/english/read/while_rest_of_orthodox_church_celebrates_christmas_bulgaria_ends_it_with_ivanov_dens_new_beginnings_-6951.html

The celebration of Ivanovden

Ivanovden is a Christian celebration but it also plays a role as a traditional folk festival. Just like Jordanovden, the day of Ivan focus on rituals involving water symbolizing the purification, and to get purified by the water means a healthy year to come. Many people bathe on these days for good health and contemplate about the baptizing of Jesus Christ.  Ivanovden ends the Christmas rituals in Bulgaria.

Photo: http://jenskologia.com/2015/01/rituali-s-voda/

Young man that have name day on Ivanovden are being bathed in a ceremonial way. Traditional young bachelors all over Bulgaria are ceremonial bathing their newly married friends. John the Baptist is the patron of both brotherhood and friendship, many young man honors their newly wed friends and become “brothers” with each other in the name of St John (the married woman become “sisters” with her friends). This is a big celebration day for newly wed couples and their friends where they together eats bread and drink wine.

Traditional the Bulgarian table is full of pork ribs, kidney beans dry fruits, boiled wheat and banitsa (a pastry filled with feta cheese).

The water ritual of the village The Big Drinking Fountain

Just like the town of Kalofer has their special ritual around the ice dancing, the village Голямата Чесма has their unique ritual connected to water.

The village of Голямата Чесма (The Big Drinking Fountain), in North East Bulgaria, have a celebration where the bachelors walks from house to house of the last years newly wedded couples. When they have reached the house and found the bride she sprinkles water on them, and it is believed that who ever of the bachelors gets the water on the body first will get married in the coming year. Then they will find the groom hiding in the garden and take him with them to the big drinking fountain on the square of the village and bathe him there. After the bathing the man gets back to his home where he is waiting for the bachelors to be done with the ceremonial bathing of last years married couples, then they will make a second round where they give the couples food and drinks.

Photo: http://www.sabori.bg/ob-targovishte/view.html?oid=22012

The name day of Ivan

Ivan is the most popular name in Bulgaria, more then 350,000 Bulgarians have name day on the 7th of January and it is said that everyone knows at least one Ivan. Since name day causes big celebration this is one of the most celebrated day of the year. Other names that are also on the name day list of the 7th of January are: Ivaylo, Ivayla, Yoana, Yoan, Kaloyan, Ivanka, Yovka and Yovko. All these names means; God´s blessings. 


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