Nikulden – the holiday of sailors, bankers and cooks
Today the eastern Orthodox christians celebrate St. Nikolay Chudotvorets (“the Wonder Maker”).
According to the Christian beliefs for the division of the world, st. Nikolay was responsible for seas, rivers and lakes. He is the master of the whole underwater world – fishes and water demons, and sea winds too.
Legends tell how st. Nikolay creates and stops the sea winds, walks over the seas and saves ships in trouble. The saint is a patron of sailors and fishermen.
The holiday Nikulden celebrates the sea elements, seas, rivers and lakes. The ritual sacrifice is a fish, most commonly a carp (carps are known as servants of the saint). Families and neighbours gather for the holiday, the large meals get blessed and the holiday ends in songs and joy.
Like the bones of the lamb for Gergiovden (another important holiday), the bones of Nikulden’s carp don’t get thrown out, but are either burnt, buried, or dropped in the river – thus ensuring the fertility and happiness of the family.
The traditions also dictate that elderly women sew the bone from near the head of the carp – the so called “krahche” – to the hats of children, to defend them from curses and evil powers.
On the day of st. Nikolay, the meal must include not only a fish and ritual breads, but also meatless dishes: corn, wheat, peppers, beans.
On this day, all ships in the open sea stop to honor the patron saint. It is also the name-day of all people with the names Nikolay, Nikola, Nikolina, Nenka, Nina, Neno, Nenko, Nino, Kolio.
Today, the bishop of Ruse Neofit will lead the mass for Nikulden in the church “St. Nedelia” in Sofia. The mass begins at 9:00 AM. Patriarch Maxim will also be present at the mass.
Masses will take place all across the country in honour of St. Nikolay Chudotvorets.