Friday, 10 February 2012

Babin Den, Grannies Day In Bulgaria

My friend Sue,  has had the great honour of being chosen by her village as Baba of the year. Baba is Bulgarian for grandmother. I was on my way to be with her but unfortunately we crashed in the snow so I have Sue's account of the day for you, as I think its wonderful for a village to choose a European to bestow this honor on. What a wonderful village to have accepted Sue & her husband Arthur, into village life so readily. This I think is such a positive & shows what Bulgarian people are really like, friendly & welcoming!
Sue says ;
"What a brilliant day today, shame about the snow but I think it added to the pleasure of the day, It all started when a group of ladies came to collect me from the house, they gave me a cooked chicken, a large round of bread and a bottle of wine, then they started singing and put a string of popcorn with a pepper on around my neck, & a garland of leaves with the flowers of the Christmas cactus on my head. We then went into the centre of the village into the Town hall.  When we got to the village hall I had to have my hands washed with soap then all the ladies gave me a present mainly aprons, towels & tea towels, then they gave me the complete Bulgarian traditional dress which was lovely.
There was a room set up with food and drink. There was hot Rakia, wine and soft drinks, 2 kebabs with potatoes, salad and bread. After we had a cream bun with chocolate on and a meringue yum yum.  They then did a tombola, I won a small wooden board and a bottle of washing up liquid lol. After 3 hours we then went back to my house for coffee, cakes & biscuits.
It really was a lovely day and I hold the title of Baba of the year for 1 year such an honour for me".
What a wonderful honour, what a wonderful Village!
The Folk Law......
Bulgarian folk tradition celebrates Midwife’s Day on January 8th, popularly known as Granny’s Day. In modern times, the date January 21 is marked as the day of childbirth assistance, celebrating Midwife’s Day. Now it seems to have been added together into one day. Some celebrate Jan 8th & others like Sue's village celebrate on 21st.

In the past, when Midwife’s or Granny’s Day came, all men in the village would hide, because on that day women reigned supreme and if a man is seen, he would be mocked by all the women who met him. Pulling his hat off or even trying to strip him naked was considered normal on that day and men could not argue or be mad about it. They could get away by bribery, which added to the general merry-making of the day. Tradition has it that all money collected in this way would be used for the shared evening feast, where men can join the party and they all celebrate together. During the day only the musician men were safe, as they had to play music and look out for the ladies enjoyment.
Red wine to warm up the freezing January day was the other compulsory accompaniment throughout the day. This was the only day when it was considered natural for a woman to drink wine, get dizzy and dare share a joke or two on men. In some regions one of the women could dress like a man on Granny’s day and the party would act out parody sketches, some suggesting erotic scenes. Only on Granny’s day could women free themselves through laughter and jokes, of  their dissatisfaction with their husbands. This overall party spirit, however, used to take over around noon. Before that women had a number of very serious rituals to perform.

The name of the Granny’s day feast comes from the old tradition when elderly women were the ones assisting younger women in child delivery. Each village had its midwife or Granny in the past. Her care for the baby, however, did not end with the delivery. On Granny’s day the village midwife visits all babies born with her help throughout the year. She bathes them ritually, spreads some honey and butter on their foreheads so that their life be sweet and rich, then blesses them for good health and long life. She also brings with her a tuft of lambs wool – to rub on the heads of the baby-girls, so that their hair be long and beautiful, and on the cheeks of the baby-boys, so that their beads and moustache be thick and manly. With a bunch of geranium tied with red woollen cloth, the Granny sprinkles holy water over young married women, so that their future deliveries be easy and painless. After this it's the turn of young brides who visit the granny at her home and perform rituals of gratitude and respect to the village midwife. Each woman brings a gift to the granny – a soap bar, a towel, a bunch of geranium flowers, a shirt, knitted socks or some money – signs of gratitude for her care. Another sign of respect to the work of the granny is the ritual of pouring water so that she washes her hands. It was believed crucial for this ritual to take place under a fruit tree as a symbol of fertility.
During that ritual, the granny is wearing a string of hot chilly peppers – symbol of manly power. All rituals on that day, whether seriously or in a joke, convey the message of multiplying the children in a family – that being one of the basic values in Bulgarian tradition.
After all the magical rituals for fertility, the granny invites everyone at her home and dinner table and then the party begins
I just love my adopted country, I love the fact they have all these fascinating traditions that they still practice in each village. The UK is so devoid of tradition to my mind we (English) have lost our culture & identity. The Bulgarians have kept their identity with even the young generations loving it. Ask a Bulgarian what year did Bulgaria come into existence & they will know & give you a history lesson, ask us & we have no idea! Children are taught their countries history first & foremost they are taught their traditional songs & dance, its wonderful.. And I absolutely love the fact they have welcomed without prejudice my friends into the bosom of their village even bestowing on Sue a great honour. Yes other countries can learn a lot from them.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments, I very much appreciate them. I am sorry if I do not post a personal reply. Thank you x