The 2/2 is a big day of traditions both from the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and from Bulgarian folklore. The Wolf Holiday is something old and not so update with today´s Bulgaria. But second of February is more known as the day of Candlemas and rooster (also as the second Trifon Zarezan). This celebration is more common in the Eastern Bulgaria and goes under the name of Petelarovden/Petlyovden. In old style the memory of Saint Euthymius of Turnovo is being honored and you may hear the names Evtimovden, Ihtima and Evtimya for this celebration.
For a non-Bulgarian it may seem weird to acknowledge a day for roosters but it has a perfect explanation. According to experts this day goes back to early Slavic traditions. The rooster is a symbol for the sun, heralding the new day coming. The rooster also symbolize fertility and virility, and rituals on this day aims to evoke health and fecundity. To sacrifice a rooster for these aims is obligatory. Its the women, mothers or the male offspring (or a boy who not yet reached sexual maturity) who preforms the sacrifice. The sacrifice takes place by the doorstep, and the ones who preform it make the sign of a cross in blood on the face of the boys on the threshold to the house. After the ritual the rooster would be boiled and then given to neighbors together with a piece of bread.
This celebration has similarities to Babinden, were the old women helps the the younger ones with cycles connected to life and sexuality. On Rooster Day the women puts on their best clothes, everyone involved in the ritual should wear wedding attire. The granny wears a special addition with feathers taken from the roosters tail, she also carries tufts of wool, strings of corn and red peppers, and they all symbolize fertility. The granny bless the food on the table and the women (very much like the ritual of Babinden).
Today in Bulgaria these ritual are only performed in villages as a reenactment, many people still enjoys festive meal and having a good time.
Rooster & Ottoman Empire
Another point of view is the historical one. During the Ottoman occupation the Janissary´s was collecting “Blood Tax”, which meant that they went from house to house and took the male offspring from their parents to force them joining the Ottoman military. In order to know which house they been to they marked the door to the house with blood. Many mothers tried to save their sons by slaughtering a rooster and paint the door with its blood in order to trick the Janissary that they already been there.
To sacrifice a rooster is also a way of honor and remembering the times many rooster saved young boys life from being forced into the Ottoman armies.
Candlemas in one of four important dates in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church dedicated to the Holy Mother of God. The feast commemorates an early episode in the life of Christ. 40 days after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph took him to the Temple in Jerusalem where he should be consecrated to God. The price of the redemption was a lamb, Mary and Joseph couldn’t afford a lamb and sacrificed two turtledoves (which was the option for those who couldn’t afford a lamb). The legend claims that Simeon was a righteous and devoted man that had been promising that he would not meet his death until he had seen Messiah. When Simeon met Jesus he took him in his arms, gave prayers and prophesied the redemption of the world by Jesus.
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