"Bogoyavlenie (St Jordan) - 6 Jan" Sofia Local Custom Tip by Scarlie

Sofia Local Customs: 75 reviews and 95 photos

by Scarlie

Bogoyavlenie or Yordanovden markes the end of the 'dirty' days and the restoration of order in the world. According to the Orthodox Religious Calendar, on this day John baptised Jesus in the waters of the Jordan River; the skies opened and God appeared in the form of a dove. Therefore, we call this day "Bogoyavlenie" (the appearance of God).

At the eve of Yordanovden, we make the third blessed dinner (first on Nikulden, second on Christmas). The dinner is vegetarian. The whole walnuts from Christmas are broken and the future is spelled on them. The belief is that on that night the skies open and whatever you wish for will be granted.

From this day onwards, the 'moratorium' on engagements, weddings, baptisings is lifted, and the wedding 'negotiators' are sent out.

One of the rituals that made it to present day is the "blessing of the cross". On this day, after the church service, the cross is thrown in the river/lake/sea or whatever natural or artificial body of water is at hand, and all men go in the water & compete to catch it. Since the cross is blessed and brings all the goodies you can imagine, whoever catches the cross can give it away for "ransom".

Mind you, it's 6 January, so it's very cold!!! But the tradition is observed so much that in heavy winters, if the water is frozen, people break the ice only to be able to perform this ritual. In some cases, the competition is so heavy that even fights break out (even tho, this defies the point of the ritual!)

Jordanovden is the nameday of: Jordan, Jordanka, Dancho, Dana but also Boyan, Boyana, Bogdan, Bogdana (the second group have other namedays but they may celebrate on this day). Famous Bulgarians who celebrate on this day are Jordan Lechkov (former football/soccer player), Jordanka Donkova (former hurdles record holder); Jordan Jovtchev (gymnast; best rings specialist in the world!!)

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  • Written Jan 5, 2005
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