Traditions & NameDays

YEREMIYA / JEREMIAH (Snake Day) - May 1

Name day of everyone named Maya, Ermena, Hermelina, Tamara, Ermenko.

Old people call the first day of May, Jeremiah (i.e. Irmin day) or Zamski day (i.e. Snake Day) and say that whoever works in the fields that day could be bitten by a snake in the summer. In the morning the mistress of the house, together with the other women in the family– daughters,daughters-in-law, sisters-in-law and all the children take tongs, pokers and tin boxes. They beat with a stick on them and go round the yard in direction from east to west, chanting:

“Go away snakes and lizards for today is Jeremiah!
 He will tie you with leather belts
and will take your skin with a flint!”

This way the women go around the house - down the cellar, go about the sheep pen, the stables and the stack-yard and it is believed that because of what they have done, no snake will crawl nearby during the summer. In some places they perform the ritual of “driving away the dragon”.

People believe that if there is a dragon in the village, he stops the clouds from coming to the village and therefore no rain falls. That is why the men in the village should drive him away. This happens during the night when several men, completely naked and holding big heavy clubs, start from the eastern end of the village and end in the western one - poking and striking all around to drive away the hidden dragon. After walking round the whole village, the men finally bathe in running water. The traditional belief is that rain will no more evade their village.

On Snake Day, young men and women stamp with bare feet the mud for the pottery. When they finish they go to the field to pick wild garlic which they bring home –it protects them against evil magic and snake eyes. In the regions along the lower run of the Tundja River, people sow cabbage that day and say: “The way the snakes curl, so let the cabbage do”, and it is expected to become tight and tasty. In some villages of the Rhodope Mountains region, Irmin Day is celebrated for protection against wolves. Hunters catch young wolves that day, take them around all houses and the hosts give them wool, flour, beans and small change. In some villages people make “karkam” –shearing the sheep and then all the shepherds gather to have a meal together.