“Velikden” - Easter

Usually Easter in Bulgaria is one week after the Catholic Easter. But it could be also the same day or a day far from the Catholic Easter. The day of Easter is calculated in relation to the first full moon after the spring equinox.

As the Bulgarian name implies “Velikden” (Great Day), Easter is one of the most significant holidays in the Bulgarian calendar and starting with Palm Sunday, the holy week leads up to the Great Day. The traditional Easter eggs should be prepared on Maundy Thursday or on Saturday. Superstition does not allow the eggs to be painted on Good Friday.

At midnight on Saturday people go to the church with their red painted eggs (symbolic of the blood of Christ). The priest will proclaim three times “Christos voskrese” (Christ has risen) and the congregation replies “Vo istina voskrese” (Indeed he has risen) and knock their eggs together with their neighbor. They then light a candle and return to their homes. Easter eggs are of great symbolic importance. They represent the beginning of all life. According to tradition the first egg should be painted in red. The house wife can then use this egg to rub the forehead and cheeks of her children for good health. “May you be healthy, white and red!” This egg is then kept in the home next to an icon till the following Easter.

A basket of Colored Eggs is essential on the dining table in every home over Easter along with the special Easter bread, more commonly referred to as Kozunak. (A sweetish bread cake made from yeast dough). Family, neighbors and friends greet each other with “Christos voskrese” and “Vo istina voskrese” and exchange eggs, Easter bread (cake) and some sweeties.

For many Bulgarians Easter Sunday marks the end of their vegetarian diet. As the family gathers around the table each member selects an egg, which is then knocked together with the others to find the victor = the strongest egg.