Monday, 6 January 2014

January 6th = Yordanov Den

Today being January 6th saw one of the main traditions happening today. This goes by various names, Bogoyavlenie, Yordanovden, Voditsi, Vodokrushti or Men's Water Day. All of the names revolve around water, according to the Eastern Orthodox teachings it was on this day that Christ was baptised in the River Jordan. I can remember when I was growing up and there were items on the news about people swimming in the Serpentine, or the sea, on New Year's Day. Even at such an early age I can remember thinking 'Sod That'. Over here in Bulgaria winter has a tendency to be a bit colder but on this day it doesn't seem to matter. Fortunately this winter has been unusually mild, so rivers and lakes haven't been swollen by snow melt. However even saying that I have to say that I would much rather be fully clothed.

The day starts with the church bells ringing and the priest saying a mass. From there people head for the nearest river or lake. Once again the priest says a small mass and casts his cross into the waters. The young men attempt to catch the cross, or at least retrieve it from the water. I think that it is just a thing that men get involved with, but this celebration doesn't seem to happen in our village beyond the ringing of the bells, and even that didn't happen this year. Whoever retrieves the cross returns it to the priest, in exchange for a small gift and a blessing. This person is thought to be guaranteed health and happiness throughout the coming year. Presumably that is if he doesn't succumb to pneumonia after his dip. There are slight similarities to doing Arctic Survival Training (AST), water is bloody cold at this time of year.

I was scanning through various news items on Facebook, as you do, and I came across an article from Burgas. They are fortunate enough that they retrieve the cross from the sea and not a river or lake. This year attracted a sizeable crowd of participants, with men ranging in ages from 16 to 60, and surprisingly one brave young lady. Bearing in mind what I wrote earlier about the various names, and one being Men's Water Day. Has sexual equality finally arrived here in Bulgaria? Certainly for the older generations things have always been done in a certain way, and therefore should continue in the same way. The younger generations do not seem to be quite so bound up in these hard and fast 'rules'. I have to admit that when I first arrived here it was quite annoying to seeing women being treated subserviently. Thankfully this attitude does seem to be dying out.

Who knows that maybe next year there might even be more women taking part in this tradition. As they say, 'Mighty Oaks from little acorns grow'. So I have to say a big well done to this young lady for having the courage to do this. It can not have been easy being the omly female taking part in what is supposedly a male tradition. For those who don't know Bulgaria is a country rich in traditions, linked to their folklore and history. What I would hate to see is for these traditions to die out as more people head for the bright lights of the cities and desert the towns and villages. If by becoming open to both males and females these traditions flourish then long may they continue. For those wondering if the young lady made it into the water .......................................


  1. We had a lovely evening with our neighbours, Big Jordan and Little Jordan (the big one!) What an honour to be included in their family day.

    My OH did the swim for them in the Yantra today. He thinks it's fun!

    1. Whereabouts did your OH go for a dip. I am guessing that they used at the bottom of Tsarevets as usual, and I know they used at the Lion Bridge between Gorna Oriahovitsa and Parvomaytsi

    2. On investigation (forgive us for not knowing our geography yet) it is a tributary of the Yantra, the Rositsa, the other side of Krusheta on the main road. We think. It's too popular on a fine day, swimmers when warm and fishing when cold, so we go at first light if we want peace...or call in on the way back to PT from shopping at Gorna or VT. I take photos.......he swims.

  2. A very warm welcome to Marta, the latest follower of the blog. Thank you for taking the time to read it :o)