-“Are we celebrating July Morning?” Did my boyfriend ask some years ago. I looked at him with questioning eyes, -“What is July Morning?” did I ask. He seemed surprised and then introduced me to what he thought was celebrated all over the world.
Tonight many Bulgarians stay up the whole night, watching the night turns to morning in a feast of enjoying the summer and the happy life. Its a tradition that started in the 1980´s and has the roots in the British rock group Uriah Heep.
In the year of 1971 did the British rock group Uriah Heep release their hit single July Morning which had a major upsurge in the 1980´s Bulgaria. Because of the socialist regime subcultures was not highly rated, and pop culture from the west side of the Iron Curtain was not particularly welcome. Therefore it could take many years (or even decades) for popular trends from the west to reach Bulgaria, but also other countries in the Eastern Bloc. That´s the reason why this song became popular later. Young Bulgarians had started a subtle protest against the socialist regime in the country (there are no record of any organised protests or other similar activities related to this date before of the changing of the regime from socialism to democracy in 1989) and they looked back to the 1960´s and the culture and ideology of the hippies. Communication and understanding through music seemed to be the answer, and Uriah Heep´s song July Morning became the start of something new.
What Does July Morning Mean in the Bulgarian Culture?
In the 1980´s in connection with Uriah Heep´s song July Morning did a new movement start. It all started with a group of young Bulgarians gathered around by Kamen Bryag, a small place in the north east Bulgaria by the Black Sea. The idea was to escape the city and everyday life in order to enjoy the night turning into a new day. The group decided that it would be nice to gather around on the same date the next year, and after that it turned to a yearly event. The idea of spending the whole night up and watching the sun rise spread and more and more people joined in for every each year. The event started to take place all around the sea cost but also in the bigger cities where people choose to find a forest, mountain, river or a lake to spend the night.
There are many different variations on how to spend the night, some people just sit and relax with their friends, other people choose to make it more of a pagan night with rituals, it can also be celebrated as a new beginning and freedom of the spirits. For the youngest celebrators this usually means the first day of the summer break and equals a great start of the vacation.
The event of July Morning has become widely popular all over Bulgaria through the years, and as the times are changing so has also the celebration of this night. The people that started the movement in the 1980´s feel disappointed of what it is today and have changed both the place and the date for the celebration in order to be left alone and celebrate the way they used to. Many young people still uses this night to escape the city life and enjoy the nature.
Uriah Heep & Bulgaria
This traditional celebration reached to the band Uriah Heep that was overwhelmed to hear this. Uriah Heep have many times joined in the July Morning tradition and held concerts by Kamen Bryag where it all started, singing their hit song that started this tradition.
There I was on a July morning, Looking for love, With the strength of a new day dawning. And the beautiful sun, At the sound of the first bird singing, I was leaving for home, With the storm and the night behind me, And a road of my own, With the day came the resolution, I’ll be looking for you,
La la la la…
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