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spring traditions: easter: The Great Week (The Passion Week)                                                          picture gallery

      The days from Vrubnitsa to Easter are called The Great Week and are also known as the Passion Week. Each of those days is called great because it is full of sufferings and traditions. The preparation for the Easter holidays is strictly determined day by day.
The first days - Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are said to be for cleaning the house, washing and giving a bath to the children which is done as a symbol of health. On Wednesday women are not allowed to weave, spin or sew.

     The Great Thursday

      On the Great Thursday women paint the eggs. The first one is always painted in red. The cheeks of the children are rubbed with it for the children to be healthy and red-cheeked. It is believed that the red Easter egg has curing powers, that it can eradicate spells and you can harp with its help. One of the eggs is left in front of the icon and stays day for the rest of the year. The Easter eggs or "perashki" as they call them in the Western parts of Bulgaria can be eaten till Spasovden.

      The painting of the eggs is done by the hostess of the house and until the red paint finishes she has to be alone in the room. On this day the lasses write on the eggs. The native folklore songs tell us stories about the written eggs. The lass or the bride has put her heart and feelings as well as her craftsmanship in each pattern of the written egg. A lot of the meanders and the writhes symbolize joy, love, respect, health, etc. While writing on the egg the lass sings songs about the tender and true love that she feels to her husband or husband-to-be. There are specific instruments used for the writing on the eggs - "kezapa", "vitriola", a feather from an eagle. The feathers are dipped in melted wax and the women write on the eggs before they put them in the paint. The areas covered with wax remain uncolored and that is how the written egg is made.
      You can find more pictures of Easter egg in the picture gallery.

      This day is celebrated as a protection from the hail and that is why women do not work and men do not reap. The same restrictions go for the next six Thursdays (until Spasovden).

     Church Holiday: According to the church traditions this is the day of the Secret Dinner of Christ and the twelve apostles, during which he foretells his own death and the betrayal of Judas. After this dinner during the prayer the soldiers come and take Christ. The clergymen take cross out of the altar as a symbol of the cross Christ carried to Golgotha.

     The Great Friday

     At the morning of the Great Friday Christ has been crucified. This day is also called the Crucified Friday. During the service on this day the cloak that Christ's body has been wrapped in after he has been laid down from the cross is taken from the altar and a burial service is held. Circles around the temple are made and the cloak is carried along. After that the funeral of Christ is performed symbolically. The hostesses prepare kozunak (Easter cake) and other Easter cookies on this day.

     Ritual table: The ritual Easter breads are as various in patterns as those on Christmas Eve.

     The Great Sunday

     Church Holiday: Тhe Virgin Mary and Maria Magdalena visit Christ's grave on the Great Sunday and they find it empty. An angel comes and announces the resurrection of Christ.