In the region of Eastern
Thracia this day is celebrated as The Mouse day
and in the Plovdiv region there is a ritual that symbolizes protection
from measles: early in the morning the woman in the house prepares a
dough, cuts a little piece of it and makes a small bun out of it. When
she has baked it, she spreads some honey or treacle on it and then
hangs it over the door. From the rest of the dough she bakes a loaf of
bread, on which they also spread some honey. They wrap the bread in a
white cloth and each member of the family takes a small bit of it
saying: "May Saint Katerina help us". Then they give pieces from the
rest of the bread to the passers-by. It is believed that in houses
where such bread has been prepared no one will get measles.
day of everyone named Ekaterina, Katerina, Katya.
The holiday of Saint Martyr Catherine is called Katerininden
(Catherine’s Day) in Bulgaria. People pay homage to this saint for her
abilities to cure rabies and measles. Early in the morning the woman
of the house, who must be ritually clean (i.e. not in her monthly
period), kneads 5, 7, or 9 breads of wheat with “silent” water and
decorates them with the spindle. Then she covers them with molasses,
treacle or honey and gives them out to neighbours.
If there are small children in the house, the mistress should take two
breads, stands at a crossroad and gives every passer-by a piece,
saying: “Here, take some for Saint Catherine, so she stays by our home
and protects us from Measles and Rabies!” Each passer-by must take a
piece and, after making the sign of the cross on their chest three
times, they should say: “Thank you, woman, for the sweet bread. As my
fingers are sticky let health stick to your children!” - “Amen! God
bless us!”, the woman replies and watches that the pieces of bread are
finished with an odd number of passers-by, so the diseases be banished
from the house. And people believed that in a house where such pieces
of bread are given out, no measles or rabies will enter.
Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr,
is considered the patroness of philosophers and preachers. Saint
Catherine is believed to have been born in Alexandria of a noble
family. Converted to Christianity through a vision, she denounced
Emperor Maxentius (306-312 AD) for persecuting Christians. Fifty of
her converts were then burned to death by Maxentius.
The Emperor offered Catherine a royal marriage if
deny the Faith. Her refusal landed her in prison. While in
prison, and while Maxentius was away, Catherine converted Maxentius'
wife and two hundred of his soldiers. He had them all put to death.
Catherine was likewise condemned to death. She was put on a spiked
wheel, and when the wheel broke, she was beheaded. She is venerated as
the patroness of philosophers and preachers. Saint Catherine's was
one of the voices heard by Saint Joan of Arc.
Maxentius' blind fury against Saint Catherine
is symbolic of the anger of the world in the face of truth and
justice. When we live a life of truth and justice, we can expect the
forces of evil to oppose us. Our perseverance in good, however, will
be everlasting. Wonderful songs were created for Saint Catherine’s Day
in which they praised the goodness and the heavenly beauty of young
Catherine: “…Catherine is known, to the king and the vizier, for she
is a dazzling beauty, a beauty, not seen before…”
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