24th of December is an Official holiday for Bulgarians – Christmas Eve. Awaiting Christ’s Nativity the whole family gathers around the table for a dinner of meatless dishes.

Ritual bread is baked with a coin for good luck put in it. The one to get it will be healthy and happy throughout the year. Incense is burned to scare the evil forces away. This night the table is not cleared and a Yule-log burns in the fireplace during all three Christmas nights.

Then each home expects the waits (Koledari). These are groups of young men dressed in festive costumes that late at night go round the houses in the village, singing songs. There are only bachelors in the groups and they have chosen their leader in advance – a married man, who knows well the people and the rituals in the village. The waits are dressed in hooded cloaks with a special decoration on their fur caps. In their hands they have long wooden sticks – shepherd’s crooks. With them they hit the ground and thus warn that they are coming. In every home they perform songs for the host, the hostess and the other family members wishing them health, wealth and prosperity throughout the year. The people in return give them money, meat, bacon, wine... The waits receive kolacheta as well /special bread, baked in small circles/ that they put on their crooks. The ritual ends at dawn on Christmas Day, after the young men have visited all houses.

 The following three days of Christmas – 25, 26 and 27 of December are full of joy and merriment. Bulgarians prepare feasts, pay visits and exchange gifts and good wishes. As a tradition roasted pork is cooked.


Photo: Аssociation "Spectar 21 vek"