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winter traditions: january: Atanasovden - January 18

     The holiday is connected with the New Year's traditions. According to the belief St. Atanas is one of the saints who divide the earth and the sky. The snow and the ice have fallen to his lot. At this day he puts on a silk shirt, he goes to the mountain and shouts: "Winter, go away, come, summer". This is where the other name of the holiday, Sredi zima (Midwinter), comes from.
     In the southwest part of Bulgaria, Atanasovden, as well as, Antonovden is honored as a holiday of blacksmiths and cutlers as well as of the plaque. A black hen is slaughtered to protect people from deseases, ritual bread is baked and broken into pieces with a fork, to prevent children from catching the small-pox and the pieces of bread are given away to the neighbors. The feathers of the hen are kept save because it is believed that they possess curing powers.
     Women observe the same restrictions as on Antonovden.
     Ritual sacrifices are given on this day in order to bring health.
     In some parts of the country young people gather on the meadows and play horo, swing and sing songs.

     Church Holiday: St. Atanasii the Great took part in the ecumencial fair in Nikea and later he became archbishop of Alexanria. He was called "the Great" because of his defeat over the priest Arii, who denied the consubtantiality of the God - Father and the God - Son. He is also called "the father of Orthodox".