This is the
first day of Saint Theodore’s week when there is symbolic “hanging” of
dogs. According to folk beliefs this protects them against rabbis.
Starting from this day people in Southern and Eastern Bulgaria dance
the Mummer dances during the whole week. The mummers, young men in
disguise, visit all houses for health
and prosperity and the hosts
give them generous presents. At the end the band of mummers
symbolically ploughs and sows in the village square, driving evil away
and bringing happiness and
prosperity to the people in the village. The mummer bride or
“hadjibaba” (as the leader of the mummers is called in some villages),
standing upright on the collar of the harnessed “ox-mummers”, blesses:
“Listen you all! Where mummer dances are
danced let there be health and prosperity! Let your gold coins be as
many as the threads in my shirt, let your children be as many as the
bees in the hive, let the voices in your house be as many as the sand
in the sea! Let evil be buried deep into the ground and let good
The day ends with a winding horo dance in the village square. There is
a legend left from old times: “A father prepared a mummer costume for
his son, watched the dance and said – Jump, dear son, jump, my boy! To
have wheat where the plough goes and where the sheep bleat. Let this
land trodden by evil forces bear fruit… My grandfather has told me
that long time ago the land of the Bulgarians was like the Garden of
Eden. It opened lavishly its womb
and gave people the fruits of their labour. They all
lived happily, ruled by a good and wise ruler. And his name was the
same – he was called Dobrodor.
He respected the neighbouring
rulers and they
respected him. That is why the people in his kingdom
lived happily. The daughter of the Northern ruler, Zliana, was envious
of his happiness and sent him a sign. But he was in love with another
girl and she decided to take revenge. She made a vicious magic. If a
man puts the animals in the harness and starts ploughing the land, his
head will dry up and he will die before reaching home.
Many animals and people died. The people of the Dobrodor kingdom
wondered what to do. Spring was coming and the earth, all dried up,
waited to be ploughed and sown. The king fell ill with sorrow.
Weeks passed. His old farther wondered how to help him and
finally found an answer. He summoned all men in the kingdom and
ordered them to skin the dead animals and take the hides. He told them
to make ox masks out of them, put on women’s clothes, string bells
round their waists, and then go to the field, put themselves to the
harness and plough the land. The men did what the father told them.
They took the hides, made masks to cover their faces so that the evil
Zliana could not affect them. They succeeded in ploughing
and sowing the field. The outwitted evil witch burst with spite. This
day became a holiday for the people of Dobrodor. Since then, when
spring is on its way, the bells start ringing and men get
They dress in women’s clothes, put masks on their faces and begin
blessing the earth for more fertility and prosperity during the year.
They jump and jump to give fruit to the earth.
Then jump, my son, my dear boy! Let us have fruit where the plough
goes and where the sheep bleat…” The next days in the week are
described as black. Black Tuesday – also called dry, deaf, cold, the
worst of all Tuesdays in the year. Mad Wednesday is observed as
protection against madness. On Scatter-brained Thursday women don’t
spin the wool, don’t roll it on the distaff to protect people against
dizziness and madness. Black Friday is considered the worst of all 12
Black Fridays during the year. Women on that day don’t wash
themselves, don’t comb their hair and don’t touch the spindle for it is
only on a Saturday that a holiday comes.
The 12 Black Fridays in the year according to the Old Testament
Friday before St. Theodore’s Day (when Adam was banished from Eden).
Friday before the Annunciation (when Cain killed Abel).
Good Friday (when Christ was nailed to the cross).
Friday before the Holy Ghost (the Agaryans captured Alexandria).
Friday before the Nativity of John the Baptist (the seizure of
Friday before St. Petka’s Day (God sent Egypt frogs and turned the
river water into blood).
Friday before the Assumption (the night of Gedeon’s victory).
Friday before Seknovenie (Irod killed John the Precursor).
Friday before the Holy Cross Day (the seizure of Sodom).
Friday after the Holy Cross Day (Moses split the Red Sea and took over
Friday before St. Andrew’s Day (on this day God’s Angel appeared to
Friday after Christ’s Nativity (King Irod started the massacre of the
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