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spring traditions: may: Germann (Germann the hail bringer) - 12 may                                              picture gallery

      It is a folk holiday done for more rain and as a protection from hail. According to the belief there are four people that can bring hail: Germann, Bartholomew, Lise and Vidovden. But Germann is the first and the best hail bringer. No one dares to do any work at this day especially on the fields. The oxen are not harnessed on this day. That is done as a protection from the hail. If there is a hail in the summer they believe that one of the peasants has gone secretly out in the fields.
     If clouds and thunders come at this day everybody comes out of their houses - men, women and children and they shout out: "Germann, you big holiday! Take the hail to the bare forests where there is no ax, where no bread is kneaded and no rooster crows!"
      There are two kinds of rituals for more rain - Germann and Butterfly.

      Germann: This ritual is usually performed in the day of the butterfly but always after it. It is known mostly in Northern Bulgaria. The participants are young girls and sometimes elder women. The lasses make a doll twenty to fifty centimeters long that looks like a man out of mud. This figure represents a naked man with clearly visible masculine exteriors which is considered as a dead man. All the rituals typical for the burial of a man are done over this doll. The doll is put on a tile, a wooden bat or in a box made for the occasion. It is decorated with flowers and buried. On the third, ninth or fourteenth day it is taken out and thrown into the river. It is done as they think Germann will protect the village and the fields from hails.

     Butterfly: Twelve or thirteen year old girls take part in it. The main person in the ritual - the butterfly - is always an orphan dressed in an old shirt and barefooted. At home or by the river they put different kinds of grass and weeds, at some regions even frogs and bones from an unknown grave on the butterfly. The whole troop goes around the houses in the village and sings a special song - a request to the God for more rain from the butterfly. The butterfly dances in the rhythm of the song. They spill water on her and then she shakes it off herself. As a gift the troop gets flour, beans, lard, etc., but they never get eggs. That is for a protection against hail. The sieve is rolled on the ground and by the way it falls they predict what the harvest will be.

     At the end they go to the river where they throw green leaves and the decoration from the butterfly and sprinkle themselves with water. The ritual ends with a table that has the received gifts on it and in some regions there is a restriction that the table should not be prepared by an old woman, a pregnant woman or a suckling mother.

      You will find more pictures for the rituals Germann and Butterfly in the picture gallery.

     Church Holiday: St. Germann was a patriarch in Constantinople who lived during the time of emperor Anastasias.