The day of St. John the Baptist
The Bulgarian orthodox church honours the memory of St. John the Baptist, who baptized Jesus in the river Jordan. The holiday is known among the populace as “Ivanovden”. As a symbol of purification, St. John baptized repntants with water. Thus, the traditional bathing for health, associated with the day of St. Jordan continues in the day. of St. John. In some parts of Bulgaria, the traditional bathing is considered more associated with the day of St. John.
The tradition applies everywhere for the newly-married, and thus the bathing can be considered as an element of the post-wedding rites, which close the circle of wedding rituals. In Southwestern Bulgaria, tradition dicates that brides and young girls be bathed. The bathing rites also include exchanging of gifts and visiting each other’s homes.
The traditional Bulgarian image of St. John as a patron of brotherhood is the reason for these visits. The meal includes meat, wine, boiled wheat, beans, flat sausage, pastry, etc. The day of St. John is the deadline for the return of the bands of carol singers. In some regions of Bulgaria, carol singers take their leader to a pond and bathe him. After that, the leader organizes a feast, where people masked as bears, maidens and bandits are present. The rites of the carol singers end today, with a traditional ring dance.