Bulgarian Orthodox Christians Mark Transfiguration of Christ

On August 6 the Bulgarian Orthodox Church celebrates the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ (Sveto Preobrazhenie Gospodne).

According to the Church, this is the day that Christ strengthened the belief of his disciples in his holy origin by transfiguring himself in front of the eyes of Peter, Jacob and John.Preobrazhenie starts fifty days of fasting (fish is allowed). On this day people pick the first grapes and give them out to relatives and neighbours. According to folklore beliefs, on Preobrazhenie the “summer turns” and starts approaching the autumn and, respectively, the cold weather.

Orthodox Bulgarians also take grapes to church to sanctify it and give them out for health and fertility during the next year. People believe that when God created the grapes, the Devil made the blackberry, called by the people “devil’s grapes”. The Devil did so that it ripened earlier that the grapes. That is why it is unlucky eats blackberries on Preobrazhenie. The good Christian tastes first the fruit of God and only after that he can eat blackberries without fear.

According to folk belief, on this day the sky opens up and if you are to see this, all your wishes will come true. And if anyone is to fall ill, he would soak some dried fruit and drink the water – the illness will be cured.

The colourful rituals connected with Preobrazhenie are still alive in hamlets and villages across Bulgaria. On this day, fairs are held and livestock and goods exchanged. In the past unmarried girls and men would arrange betrothals and weddings. According to tradition going back to antiquity, weddings would take place in September, so that the child may be born in June and the bride could get down to work during the summer period.

Preobrazhenie is also an important day in Bulgarian history as it is when the Adrianople vilayet joined the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising of 1903.

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