Traditions & NameDays

TRIPHON ZAREZAN (The Feast Day of St. Triphon the Martyr) - February 1

Name day of everyone named Trifon, Trifonka, Lozan.

Ritual table: boiled chicken, baked flat sausages, omelette, freshly baked bread, cheese cake.

On February 1 the Orthodox Church celebrates and honors St. Triphon – one of the most glorified saint-healers, who lived in the 3rd century AD. The 17 year-old Triphon healed the daughter of the Roman Emperor Gordian and in doing so, gained great glory and respect.The feast is also called "the Noseless", as a folk legend says that the Virgin Mary cursed Triphon to cut his nose because he made fun of her. On this day people elect "Tsar Triphon", and in spirits they carry him home from the vineyards.

In the traditional calendar, St. Triphon’s Day is a holiday of the vine-growers, tavern-keepers and gardeners, who are protected by the Healer Saint Trifon. Early in the morning that very day, the housewife in the house kneads and bakes ritual bread, which in some parts of Bulgaria is even decorated with a vine-leaf. After that she boils a chicken, roasts it and then fills a wine vessel with wine. The housewife places all this in a new or clean woolen bag, together with a bottle of sanctified water from the church, which bag she hands to her husband.

With the bag over his shoulder, the lord of the house joins his fellow vllage men. They all have headed towards the vineyards. Once all men have reached their vineyards they perform the main and most important ritual for the day – the cutting of the vines. They face the rising sun, make the sign of the cross over themselves and cut some sticks from one or three vines either from the center of the garden or from its corners, they then pour wine over the cut vines and whisper a blessing: “The more wine drops, the more grapes”. The men sprinkle the vines with holy water for fertility and to protect them from hailstorms and other natural disasters. They collect the vine sticks they have cut and make wreaths out of them. Some put these wreaths over their caps, shoulders or wine vessels, others take them home and place them in front of the house icon of the Saint.

    After the vine cutting ritual, the men get together and lay a festive table right there, amongst the vineyards.In some regions of Bulgaria the men choose a ”King of the Vines” or a “Triphon” before the merriment begins. Every man can become a king if he wants to, he only needs to have been a good and prosperous vineyard owner all through the past year. The king offers a wine vessel full of wine and whispers a blessing: “To each vine a quarter of bushel, from each vine - a tub”.

The other men carry the king to the village. Upon their return in the village they visit all neighboring houses. The hosts first give the king wine to drink and then treat the others in the party. The hosts pour what is left from the wine in the wine vessel over Triphon, with the blessing: “May we have a rich harvest, may the wine pour in abundance”. The holiday ends with a feast in the house of the king, who treats his guests with wine. The festive rituality of Triphon’s Day includes numerous magic activities and practices. According to the traditional calendar, Wolf Days start on St. Triphon’s Day.