Traditions & NameDays

TODOROVDEN - no fixed date

Name day of everyone named Todor, Todorka, Teodor/a, Theo, Dora.

Ritual table: rite bread, lentils, mushroom soup.

The first Saturday of the Easter Lent, the East Orthodox calendar celebrates Todorovden (St. Theodore’s Day) – the feast is also popular by the names of “Tudoritsa” or “Horse Easter”. As the tradition requires, early in the morning on Todorovden, the young unmarried ladies and the newlywed ones used to knead and bake bread-rolls, then take them to the church and hand them to their neighbors and relatives for horses’ health's sake. At noon horse racings were organized, and the riders were all boys or young men. A kerchief was tied around the neck of the winner-horse. After the racings, the girls used to expect the first rain to come and then they used to wash their hair using the rainwater gathered in the horseshoe footmarks - so that their hair would grow long and flexible as the horse mane is.

Horse races are organized onTodorovden – a custom in which the whole village participates. The men clean their horses, adorn their reins with colorful beads, then put their new shirts on and take the horses out for the race. The winner in the race is awarded – the horse receives new reins and its owner a new shirt or towel. Then the rider mounts his horse again and visits all houses in the village to greet the hosts for the holiday. He is received with joy and his horse is offered water.

Before sunrise the women make rite bread in the shape of a horse or a horseshoe and decorate them with walnuts, garlic and salt. Every housewife visits her neighbors and gives them from the bread she has baked and while she does so she hops runs and imitates the movements and whinnying of the horses. Her ambition is to be first. Pieces from the rite bread are mixed with the food of the horses. The most interesting element of the holiday is the so-called kushia or horse racing. On Todor’s Day are performed different rites connected with the young brides in their first year of marriage. In western Bulgaria, the just married young women go to church on Friday evening, wearing their wedding dresses. Their mothers-in-law who carry bowls full of boiled corn and ring-shaped cakes usually accompany them. The brides wait outside the church and the mothers-in-law enter inside, where the priest blesses the items they bring. On their way out they “kick” the brides. The blessed corn is spread over the gardens for rich harvest.

Another interesting rite practice for health and fertility is implemented in some parts of Bulgaria – in the morning of the holiday the young brides bake small loafs of bread. Festively dressed they visit the houses of their neighbors, friends and relatives, give them bread and bless their children for health. In the end the brides go to their parents’ houses accompanied by their husbands and parents-in-law. A festive table is laid.

Very early on Todor’s Day the mothers bathe their children so that they are healthy. Before the horse race all women wash their hair with water mixed with straw from the horses’ mangers. They throw the already used water in the street, behind the horses so that their hair is long and strong as the horse’s mane.