Namedays of the Bulgarians

Bulgarians have the saying: “The name makes the man”, and another one adds: “A man without a name is no man.” When you reproach a person, you say “you blackened your name” or “you brought shame on your name”. That is why, in the past, the celebration of namedays was one of the most respected family holidays. Many of the old people didn’t know the exact date of their birth. For orientation they used the big calendar or labor holidays. They determined their “coming to the bright world” by saying: “I was born after St. Demetrius’ Day, at threshing time, before grape-picking or on Holy Virgin’s Day.”

The nameday is an important day in the life of the Bulgarian and you greet the person by saying “Let your name live long!”. According to old legends each man is destined to have a protector-spirit who directs him during his life on earth, protects him from evil, helps him in difficult moments and incites him to perform good deeds. After death this spirit accompanies the soul of the deceased to the other world when it is presented before God. During lifetime the protector-spirit sits on the right shoulder of the person. On the left sits the devil’s messenger and pushes man to do evil things. Thus, if the protector-spirit is weak the man becomes bad or is permanently ill. If the spirit is strong, the man is healthy, good and kindly. That is why we must pay homage to the protector-spirit on the nameday of the person for the spirit has suggested to the parents what name to give to the newly born child.

Traditionally you visit somebody for his or her nameday without being invited, to express your respect. Like in antiquity, when the whole family gathered together for the offering to the patron to make family relations strong. Today the nameday is a kind of a mirror of the social relations of the person. A person shares his holiday with colleagues, with the family and friends because he lives in much broader horizons. The nameday is an opportunity to feel the joy of communicating with people dear to you, to introduce warmth and humanity in the flow of ordinary days.






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