St Trifon Zarezan

Not everyone in Bulgaria celebrates St Valentine’s Day as many people know it, especially if there is no one to share it with. This is why a lot of Bulgarians of all ages prefer to celebrate the Day of St. Trifon Zarezan instead.

According to history and legend the celebration of St. Trifon’s day comes from the time when the tribes of the Thracians roamed all over what is now Bulgaria.  Their highly aromatic wines were famous worldwide. According to the Thracians, the anesthetic effect of the wine helped priests to come into contact with the gods, and therefore they created a cult of it.

Since St. Trifon Zarezan is the patron of vine growing and wine producing – this feast is celebrated particularly well by vine-growers and wine producers, tavern-keepers, all wine lovers, and of course by people who do not like St. Valentine. Unlike St. Valentine’s Day, this is a traditional Bulgarian feast that has enjoyed great popularity in Bulgaria for centuries.

In this post are two galleries of pictures taken on the day here in Alekovo – it was a wonderful celebration of music, dancing, meeting, feasting, fun and traditions . I hope you enjoy browsing the galleries – and perhaps over time I will be able to identify all of the participants – but unfortunately I can’t at this time.

The Thracian god of fertility, wine, and mirth is known as Dionysus and it is believed that St. Trifon is his ” successor “. Although his biography does not mention anything related to vineyards and wine it is a fact that the feast of the saint almost coincides with the celebration of the Dionysian festivals, during which the wild Bacchantes danced in honor of the wine.

In any case celebrations are held in villages, towns and cities all over Bulgaria, where vines are very common as is home made wine and spirits – especially the delightful cure for all ills – Rakia.

In Alekovo the day was no different, many houses were visited by the celebrants, led by the village dance/music/folk group and the Mayor. It was wonderful to see – and the leader of the village folk troupe has challenged me to be well enough to dance in the village square next year – and Milen is not a man to let down!!

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