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MESNI ZAGOVEZNI (Meat Fasting Day)

Mesni Zagovezni (Meat Fasting Day) - celebrated 8 Sundays before Easter. After the All Souls' Day (Goliama Zadoushnitsa) on Saturday, the following day, Sunday, people celebrate the Orthodox Church feast of Mesni Zagovezni - the last day people are allowed to eat meat before Easter, so the festive table contains predominantly meat dishes.

In the week following the Mesni Zagovezni Day, i.e. the week before the SIRNI ZAGOVEZNI (Shrove Sunday/ Cheese Fasting) people are allowed to eat dairy products: cheese, butter and eggs. This is the last week in which the young people can go to the village square, sing and dance the horo.

Then, the period of the Easter Lent comes connected to food and spiritual fasting. For centuries in a row Bulgarianshave established the required eating schedule throughout the year. The strict observation of the Fast is supported by a cycle of rituals and rules, fixing "starting fast" and "breaking fast". "Starting fast" is a whole series of practices introducing man into a system of restrictions, and "breaking fast" is a return to the world of chaos and various temptations.

Fasting in the folk mythology has its origin in the belief in the rhythmic change of chaos and order. From an aesthetic and biological point of view, fasting is connected to the rituals of seasonal transition and bringing biological processes of man in harmony with those of nature. Temporary abstinence from certain kinds of food or activities during fixed periods of time is a way of purification and attainment of spiritual and physical perfection.

The Great Lent (Easter fast) is the longest one. It lasts seven weeks and ends on Easter. The second longest fast is the Christmas fast – 40 days. There is two-week fasting before the feast days of some saints - e.g. Virgin Mary, St Peter, etc.