MAY. THE NESTINARSTWO – an old custom of people dancing barefooted on live coals. The masterpiece, included in the list of the intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO since 2009.

May 21 St. Constantine and Helena . This day is associated with the Nestinarstwo – an old custom of people dancing barefooted on live coals. The aim is to provide welfare and fertility for the village. The custom is a masterpiece, included in the list of the intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO since 2009.
It is still preserved in its authentic form in the village of Bulgari in the Strandzha Mountain, where it is performed on the day of St. Constantine and Helena according to the old calendar – 3 June. Early in the morning all the villagers, led by the icon of the saints, head to the holy spring to consecrate it. Later the Nestinari, retreat to the chapel till the evening as they listen to the beating of a drum. During the day a big fire is set on the square. As it gets dark, the embers are spread in a circle with a diameter of 2 meters and with of 5-6 centimeters. The Nestinari come, walk around the circle three times and pass through it in a cross. Then the real dance begins. They enter the fire circle with loud shouts. One of them is with the icon of St. Constantine and Helena in hands. While dancing the Nestinari reach a religious state of trance and often make predictions. It is unique that after the dance their feet are not burned.  
Nowadays that dance is performed in other Bulgarian regions as well but mainly as touristic attraction.  

Photos are provided by the Nestinari Iliian Iordanov and his daughter  – Maria.
The icon was painted by artist Iliana Betzinska (photo: assotiation "Spectar 21 vek").