Saturday, 13 September 2008

Trifon Zarezan - Vinegrowers Day

February 14th, what day does that say to you? If you say Valentine's day, you are right but in Bulgaria heart are far from people's minds, it is wine rakia, vineyards and grapes that takes the day by storm.

Bulgarians celebrate the second Sunday of Febraury, with this year falling on the 14th February. It is another name day in Bulgaria but a special one as it is the name of the patron of wine, Saint Trifon or Trifon Zarezan. There are folklore rituals in vineyards in villages throughout the whole of Bulgaria.

The rituals vary across the country but basically the men go out to prune the vines leaving they're womenfolk behind to cater. They bake festive loaves and cook roast chicken then set off to join up with their men in the country.

Everyone now together, they gather in among the vines and do what all Bulgarian’s do whether a festive time or not, namely eat, drink, sing, dance and not least talk.

Tradition says that the man who had harvested the most grapes last season is duly appointed as the "Grape King" nest year. It is also tradition that he and his followers must get drunk to ensure a good harvest the following year.

Rakia of course is part and parcel of the celebrations an with the harvest much of the grape that are grown will turn out as Rakia each year, that is from the pomace that was left from the wine.

Having attended a few of these celebrations in my own village, there is a lot of wine being drunk, but also the Rakia which sneaks in round the back. After all, it is a celebration and no celebration in Bulgaria is without the company of Rakia!
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