24th December - Small Christmas (Christmas Eve, Krachun)
The Christmas celebrations start on 24th December and continue until Stefanovden.
For most people the Small Christmas is a bigger holiday than the following ones because that is the evening of Christ's birth. Children are the ones that enjoy it the most. Christmas Eve is the first censed evening. The most important traditions are the budnik, the table with ritual breads, the Christmas meals and the ritual singing of Christmas carols- koleduvane.
The budnik is an oak or a pear tree cut and brought home by a young man to keep the fire up throughout the night. Bringing it in the man asks: "Do you praise the young God?" The women answer: "We praise him, we praise him! Welcome!" The man adds: "I am home and God is with me!"
At one of the ends of the tree there is a hole, which is full of olive oil, wax and incense. That end is wrapped in a linen or cotton sheet and the budnik is put up by the fireplace. Meanwhile the women are singing folk songs:
"- Oh, you tree, straight tree,
From the tree that has been cut for the budnik people make stakes for fencing the fields, to protect them from being robbed by tramps and magicians.
There are three kinds of ritual breads: real Christmas breads (bogovitsa, kolak, svetets (saint), krustash, pogacha), breads made by hosts (gumno, kolak, kashara, cherkovnik, bachva, bojichnik, ralo) and Christmas breads (kravaj)
This is the first day of Christnas and the last of the year for which people say that encloses the circle. Families gahter on the table with meat meals on it, sing songs and have fun. In some parts of Bulgaria the young families visit their first witnesses, godfathers and parents. In other places the holidays of the mice start at that day and continue until Krustovden. The restrictions that are specific for the holiday Mrasnite dni (the Dirty days) are strongly observed.
Church Holiday: According to the Gospel, on this day Jesus Christ was born in a cave in Bethlehem.
Ritual Table: 7,9 or 11 meatless dishes are served.
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