Bulgaria Celebrates Army Valor on St. George's DaySociety | May 6, 2013, Monday // 07:31| views
Bulgaria celebrates on May 6 St. George's and Bulgarian Army Day. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency
Bulgaria celebrates Monday, May 6, the Day of Saint George the Victorious, and the Day of the Bulgarian Army.
May 6 was officially pronounced as the Day of the Bulgarian Army on January 9, 1880, shortly after the establishment of the country's military with a decree of Knyaz Alexander Battenberg.
After the Communist regime came to power, in 1946, the holiday was banned to be reinstated on January 27, 1993 with a decision of the Bulgarian cabinet.
Since 1998 it has been marked as a national holiday, and it is a day off for workers across the country.
On the sidelines of the celebrations of the Day of Bulgarian army, May 6 marks also the national feast Gergyovden, the day of one of the most popular saints - St. George, who is among the few venerated by Christians and Muslims alike.
Saint George the Victorious (Pobedonosets), canonized by the Church because of his brave deeds, is usually painted on icons as riding a white horse with his lance stabbed in the throat of a beast - the dragon. Legend has it that the dragon used to attack the shepherds and their sheep and steal a sheep or a lamb. The shepherds were desperate. Then St. George appeared and killed the dragon.
The holy martyr St. George the Victor has been considered one of the most important Saints ever since Christianity became the official state religion in Bulgaria in the 9th century.
In Bulgaria St. George is the patron of spring verdure and fertility, and of shepherds and farmers. His Day, May 6, is believed to set in summer and the new farming cycle.
A common ritual is to cook and eat a whole lamb, which is an ancient practice possibly related to Slavic pagan sacrificial traditions and the fact that St. George is the patron saint of shepherds.
Special place on the table is attributed to the ritual Gergyovden bread. All sorts of bread are made for the feast - the cross bread, the shepherd's bread, the large ring-bread, as well as small ones, or the special ring-shaped bun baked by the young wife in the house.
In Bulgaria, May 6 is the name day of Georgi and Gancho for the males, and of Gergana, Ginka, Galiya for the females.
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