< Customs and Rituals

The Yule-tide is one of the biggest celebrations by the Orthodox Christians. The evening before Christmas is called Christmas Eve. On this holiday, a ritual meal is prepared, which is consecrated by the oldest member of the family. On Christmas Eve, the fire should not die out in the fireplace all through the night. The fire is kept up by the Yule log, which is made of a thick oak or a pear tree. In some villages the people believe that they are not supposed to sleep near the fireplace, else someone might get hurt. The ritual table also should not be put away on that night. In Bulgaria, Yule-tide’s celebration peak is the traditional custom koleduvane.

The group of "koledari" meets on Nicolas day, when they elected leader called "stanenik" and a camp "stan" where they can meet and study the songs in the evening. The group consists of young men bachelors; they wear national costumes with hooded cloak over the top. Strings of popcorn and posy of box-shrub hang down their hats.

On the night of Christmas Eve the "koledari" come out. Their songs can be heard in the whole village. On the road they are singing: "Syala moma ran bosilek" (the maid sowed basil). The boys visit every house but the ones, where there was a death during the year.

According to the tradition the boys come out from the house of the “stanenik” and after visiting all the houses they return back there again.
In the short song “Stani stani Nine, stani gospodine” (Stand up, stand up Nine, stand up mister!) the boys report of their arrival at the gates. After entering the house they sing two, three or more songs. The young men glorify the host with wealth, success, health, with hospitality and respect. Their songs and blessings proclaim the hard work. Each song ends with short wishes "Tebe peem, Boga slavim!" (We sing for you and glorify God!). Beside the host the "koledari" perform songs for the hostess, their children, house animals and fields. After the songs and blessings as a sign of respect, the hosts endow the young men. A coin has been tied together in the towel of the "stanenik", then the group is offered with wine, bacon, fruits, and the maiden gives them a ring-shaped-bun. This bun is decorated with basil and thick string popcorn. It is accepted by leader and he utters a blessing. In saying it he often turns out to his group with the words: "Say Amen, group!" and they meet open-mouthed: "Amen!", then rap with their crooks on the floor. The group of koledari goes out of the house and head to the next one as they sing on the road:
"Syalay moma ran bosilek (the maiden sowed early basil)
Vie dor dve momi
Vie dve Kalini
Den go e syala, den poniknal...” (The day she sowed it, that day it sprang...)
The custom "Koleduvane" is preserved as a tradition over the years and today is practiced by young boys, who are still bachelor. Thanks to them has been preserved the folk tradition, which is an integral part of the winter ceremonial complex in the Bulgarian village.
The tradition says that the boy that has not been a “koledar”, can not marry!

Plamena Kirova
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