< Customs and Rituals
December 21
Folklore conceptions of the Doomsday

The Mayans considered December 21 for a turning point. Alongside these believes the world started talking about the end of the world. Scientists are eager to explain that this is not the end but a new beginning. Of course, we, Bulgarians have always known that everything is connected in a cycle. In our rituals, the concept is basic. Even transition between the old and a new year is both the end of the world and its creation. The old loses power, creates chaos, which gradually fades way and the universe regains order once again.
The Bulgarian folklore world concept doesn't have a special notion for "the end of the world" event. In folk songs and stories, this phrase doesn't mark a certain date but place, a faraway place. People believe that when the sun sets, it goes home to his mother. Its home is at "the ends of the world." "Krai-svet" (End of world) is also called the place where heaven and earth touch.
Although the folklore model of the world is bipolar (chaos-cosmos, life-death, sun-moon, earth-sky, black-white, up-down, outside-inside, left-right, female-male, upper land - lower land etc.), it lacks an option beginning - end of the world.

Bulgarian people's idea of world creation is formed under the influence of the Christian religion. The world was created by God and later the saints shared it between each other. Even the calendar is subject to this pattern - summer and winter shared between St. George and St. Demetrius.
A possible end is not mentioned ... We have understood the power of the nature cycle and accepted the constant iteration.

About the period between [url=http://www.burgasmuseums.bg/index.php?tab=ethno&lang=en&page=encyc&enc=rituals&pgno=1&eid=67]St. Nicholas[/url] and St. John's holiday, prof. Ancho Kaloyanov wrote that "there's no real doom, but a threat, which is to be removed by following the family legacy and the holy tradition. In this battle of man and nature, the songs present a memory for the order in the universe, when it exists, songs are not sung, but when it (the order) is destroyed, they replace it."

"Zamuchi se Boyha maia ["The Holy Mother is in pangs]
Ot Ignazhden do Koleda [from Ignazhden to Christmas]
Da si rodi mlada Boga" [to gave birth of her young God ..."]
These words belong to one of the songs sung by the carolers (bg: koledari) on Christmas.

December 21 is actually the second of the labor days. 20. December known as St. Ignatius' Day is celebrated as the beginning of Mary's birth pangs.
In the folk calendar the New Year begins precisely on Ignazhden - December 20.
On this day the first guest, who crosses the doorstep, is very important ("Polaznik"). If he is kind and generous, it will bring good luck to the house. This is a way for the new to enter the house. Then every action and gesture that follows has magical powers, so people are carefully looking for the signs and seek their meaning.......
On Ignazhden the housewife prepares the new sourdough. With it she will knead the bread through the year.
A new beginning has been marked down; a new world is being created. In their hearth people tremble in anticipation of the birth of the sun, of the birth of the Young God and this eternal cycle justifies their existence.

Lets welcome the New Year healthy and relaxed, with good hope for happy days!

Rosica Topalova, Curator in Department Ethnography of Regional Museum Burgas

Koledari from the village of Gulabets, Burgas Region.
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