This day is recognized and/or celebrated by various Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, and Anglican Churches. The Bulgarian name “Blagovets”, roughly translated, means “Day of Gladdening News”. This day is celebrated especially by mothers, since the mother of Jesus is seen and honored as their protector and savior.
Traditionally the beginning of spring is also celebrated on this day, a time when nature awakes from its slumber. After all, the 25th nearly coincides with the first day of the astronomical spring. And this year, on this day, time will be moved ahead to adjust for Central European Summer Time (or Central European Daylight Saving Time). All signs point to renewal. People believe that this is the day when migratory birds, such as storks, swallows, and cuckoos, return from the sunny south in order to spread the good news that winter is over and spring has begun. It is said that everything we do on this day will reach a successful conclusion. Those who plant a fruit tree on the day of Blagovets, for example, may assume, that this tree will bear a bounty of particularly sweet fruit. If bee keepers release their bees from their hives on this day, the honey will be sweeter than usual. Those who get up early on this day, may look forward to a rich and successful year. It is said that if you leave the house with a piece of bread and a coin, you will be well fed and financially provided for all year.
On Blagovets Day in Bulgaria, there are several customs which are generally adhered to. One should not work on this day. As a result, for example, farmers will not venture out onto their fields on this day. The cleansing powers of this day are also celebrated. Often this is a perfect occasion for some spring cleaning, and thus prime the home for a good year. Some build a fire in front of their home and burn trash, which is supposed to guard against illness.
Snakes are an important subject in these customs. There are rituals which serve to drive away snakes in order to protect you from snake bites. This involves whole groups of people venturing through homes and gardens making lots of noise by rattling, clattering, clanging and jingling an assortment of metal household objects. On the other hand, snakes are also seen as a home’s guardian. In such a case, a bowl of milk is placed by the front door for them.
The first thing you should eat on Blagovets Day is green vegetables such as nettles or sorrel. This is supposed to encourage the flow of fresh blood through the body. As a result of the positive energy of this day, it is also assumed that Blagovets Day not only makes you less sensitive to pain, but wounds will heal more quickly. This is why, on is the traditional day, little girls typically have their ears pierced for the first time. While children can hardly feel the actual piercing these days with modern instruments (such as the Studex System75 for example), the positive healing effects are just as important today as they have always been. In addition, gold earrings in Bulgaria are said to have magical qualities: They are supposed to protect the child from evil forces.
Many thanks to our Bulgarian colleague, Veselina, for information about traditions and customs on this day. If you decide to celebrate March 25th according to Bulgarian tradition for a change, let me know! I wish you a joyous renewal and fresh and positive energy for the entire year. Happy Blagovets!