Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)


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Rupite: A Volcano, Thermal Springs, and a Blind, Clarvoyent Baba

What a title, right?!

The final stop on our whirlwind weekend in southeastern Bulgaria the weekend before last was a visit to the small village of Rupite and the area around the extinct Kozhuh Volcano.

Rupite

To get to Rupite, we drove through the city of Petrich. Unfortunately, we didn’t stop and I regret it now. It looks like an interesting town and I hope we can make it back some day.

Rupite is  known as the home and burial place of the Bulgarian mystic/healer, Baba Vanga, as well as the site of the Kozhuh Volcano and a series of thermal springs.

After a quick drive through Rupite village to ask for directions, we made our way to the thermal springs and nearby baths. The smell of sulfur and steam rising from the springs was a little intense. The average water temperature is about 78 C (172 F); how someone could lay in near-boiling water is beyond me!

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Easter in Bulgaria

Happy Easter, everyone!

I just woke up (yes, I sleep in quite late on the weekends) and it occurred to me that this will be the last Easter I spend in the U.S. for at least a couple of years.

My next Easter will be spent in Bulgaria. No biggie! I don’t know that I will ever get over saying/thinking things like that. Just 3 years ago  I could barely point out Bulgaria on a map and now I am planning my future there. Weird.

My family is friends with a Greek family so I know that there are some pretty important Easter traditions in the Eastern Orthodox faith/Greek Orthodox faith in general.

Easter is one of the most significant holidays on the Bulgarian religious calendar (Bulgarian Orthodox, of which the majority of Bulgarians are a member) and they derive many of their rituals from the greater Eastern Orthodox church.

The rituals and festivities start on Palm Sunday and last for a week leading up to the Great Day, known as “Velikden,” which means “the faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Their rituals include:

  • Dying eggs, the first of which is red to symbolize the blood of Christ.
  • Making Easter breads known as kozunak.
  • The Saturday night before Easter, just before midnight, worshipers gather at the church and light candles from the “holy fire.” They walk around the church three times and then carry their lit candles home with them to ensure luck and prosperity in the coming year.
  • The priests at the church also bless the eggs and breads brought by the congregation.
  • The “Good Luck Crack” is a tradition unique to Bulgaria. People take turns cracking their eggs against the eggs of others. The person with the last unbroken egg is said to have great luck, health and fortune for the next year.
  • Easter Sunday itself is celebrated with a large family meal typically including lamb and sweet breads.

Overall, it’s a huge deviation from the overly commercialized Easter we celebrate in the United States. Some Americans do put a religious emphasis on the holiday, but I think for the most part, kids grow up associating the holiday with the Easter Bunny and not Christ (I did anyway). So, I am really excited to be in Bulgaria and celebrate Easter as Bulgarians celebrate it.

No matter where you are and what you celebrate, I hope you have/had a fantastic Sunday.

Talk to you soon,

W.