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The first sunday before lent (Sirni Zagovezni) (a movable date, it depends on the cycle of the Easter holidays)

     According to the official church canon the period of the Easter fast continues for seven weeks. Bulgarians call the first week of the fast "sirnica", "sirni pokladi" or "proshka" (forgiveness), because the Orthodox religion allows the consumption of buuter, cheese and eggs. The consumption of meat stops the previous week known as Mesni (meat) Zagovezni.
    The Sirni Sunday is rich with rituals. Before lunchtime the newly marreid go visit their first witnesses and elder relatives - parents, brothers and sisters, friends. They kiss their hand and ask forgiveness, because in the evening when they sit on the table they should have reconciled and taken forgiveness from their relatives. "Forgive me!" - that is what the young peole say when they bend to kiss the hand. "May God forgive you, you are forgiven!" - the elder bless. In the evening the whole household gathers around the table, full of fishmeals, cheese and eggs pasrty, milk and of course white khalva. The youngest members of the family are eager for start of the traditional "hamkane" or "lamkane". They sit on the floor, making a circle. The grandmother ties a piece of the khalva, a piece of cheese or of a boiled egg with a red woollen thread. She ties the other end of the thread to the ceiling beam or to her distaff. Then she swings the khalva around the sitting children who keep their hands behind their backs. Each of the children tries to bite the swinging tidbit with its mouth, which turns the ritual into a noisy and funny game. Then the grandmother sets the thread on fire and by the way it burns she predicts if the year to come will be fertile. The ashes from the burnt woollen thread are kept as a remedy. After dinner the men go out into the yard and shoot with rifles announcing the beginning of the Great fast.
     Very important things in the tradition are the putting on of big bonfires and the jumping over them in which the main participants are the bachelors and the elder boys. During the whole "sirna week" they gather branches and corn leaves which they carry to the high places outside the village. They pile the branches and the leaves around a high pike and they put the head of a rooster that has been slaughtered during the Mesni (meat) Zagovezni on top of the pike. The young people from different nieghborhoods compete with each other and try to make the highest piles. In the evenuing of the Sirna Sunday they set the bonfires on fire and they have different names in the different parts of Bulgaria - "oratnici", "olelii", "kurkovnici", "oidelelii" or "urbalki".
     In Strandja the lads carry big wicher baskets with burning straw in them on pikes. That is why the tradition is also known as "Pali kosh" (burn the basket). They have made in advance by themselves special kinds of arrows made of hazel and cornel tees. The arrows are called "chavgi", "chilki", "pernici" or "susamnici". They are shot away with the help of a split hazel tree - "mashalgan". The arrowa are set on fire and directed by the lads to the home of the lass they love. The action is accompanied by phrases that sometimes get a little too cynic: "If you, old man, don't give me the lass I will set your beard on fire!" The bachelors and the boys jump over the fire and play around it until the morning comes. This is done to protect the house from fleas, the summer from rain and for a fertile year. In the evening when the bonfires are burning everyone goes out to the square for the last boys-and-girls horo. To make the hemp and the other crops grow tall the peole play the horo wildly and bouncy. Horoes are not allowed to play until Easter, during the Great fast.

     Ritual table: Fish meals, cheese and eggs pastry, milk and white khalva.