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Blagoveshtenie: Celebrating the Day of Epiphany in Bulgaria

The Day of Epiphany is a Christian holiday on which people celebrate the epiphany of the триединен Бог (triedinen Bog), or “triune God.” In this article, you’ll learn more about how Christians view the Epiphany holiday, and more specifically, how Bulgarians celebrate Epiphany.

At BulgarianPod101.com, we always aim to ensure that your language-learning journey is both fun and informative—starting with this article on Epiphany! Bulgarian customs may just surprise you. ;)

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Epiphany?

Epiphany is a very old holiday. According to the Orthodox Church, this is the day Jesus Christ was baptized in the River Jordan. Thus the holiday is also called “Baptism of the Lord.” The name Bogoyavlenie is formed by two words: bogo, meaning “God’s,” and yavlenie, which is a word meaning “appearance” or “manifestation.”

According to Christianity, at the baptism of Jesus Christ, the secret of the Holy Trinity appeared—the Son Jesus Christ in human form, the Holy Spirit as a dove alighting upon Jesus, and the Divine Voice of the Heavenly Father. Hence the name Bogoyavlenie.

Jesus Christ was baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist (Yoan Krastitel). The next day on the calendar, January 7, is Ivanovden—name-day of Ivan, Ivanka, etc., and the feast of Sveti Yoan Krastitel (Saint John the Baptist).

2. When is Epiphany in Bulgaria?

Adoration of the Magi

Each year, Epiphany (Bogoyavlenie) is celebrated on January 6 and is also a name-day for people carrying the names Yordan, Yordanka, and similar names. This is because these names derive from the name of the River Jordan (Yordan).

Other common names celebrated on this name-day are Bozhidar, Bozhan, Boyan, Bogdana, and Dancho.

3. Reading Practice: Bulgarian Celebration of the Epiphany

Swimming in Water

On Epiphany Day, Bulgarian traditions and customs reflect the theme of baptism.

Do you know how Bulgarian Christians celebrate Epiphany? Read the Bulgarian text below to find out, and check your reading skills against the English version.

На Йордановден се яде постно и на трапезата трябва задължително да присъстват царевичен хляб или царевични питки.

Популярен обичай на Богоявление е да се хвърля кръст в леденостудените води на реките. Обикновено мъже скачат да го уловят. Този, който го намери се смята, че ще бъде благословен с късмет.

On Yordanovden, people fast, and there must be cornbread or flat corn loaves on the table.

A popular custom on Epiphany is to cast a cross into the ice-cold water of the rivers. Usually, men jump in to take it; the one who finds it is considered to be blessed with luck.

4. Many Names

Epiphany in the Bulgarian culture is a holiday with many names. Do you know what they are?

Besides Baptism of the Lord, this day is also called Yordanovden, Winter Feast of the Cross, Enlightenment, Waters, and even Vodokrashti, because of the association with Jesus’s baptizing in the waters of Jordan.

5. Essential Bulgarian Vocab for Epiphany

Cleaning Hands in Water

Here’s some Bulgarian vocabulary you need to know for Epiphany!

  • състезавам се (sastezavam se) — compete
  • Кръщавам (krashtavam) — baptize
  • Кръст (krast) — cross
  • Мъдрец (madrets) — Wise Men
  • хвърлям във водата (hvarlyam vav vodata) — toss in the water
  • мъже танцуват в реката (mazhe tantsuvat v rekata) — men dancing in the river
  • Почитам (pochitam) — worship
  • поклонение на влъхвите (poklonenie na vlahvite) — adoration of the Magi
  • Водосвет (vodosvet) — sanctification of the water
  • триединен Бог (triedinen Bog) — triune God
  • Пречистване (prechistvane) — purification
  • скачам във водата (skacham vav vodata) — jump in the water
  • мокри дрехи (mokri drehi) — wet clothes

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Bulgarian Epiphany vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about the Bulgarian Epiphany traditions and the story behind this significant Christian holiday.

Do you celebrate Epiphany in your country? If so, how? Let us know in the comments!

If you’re interested in learning more about Bulgarian culture, or want to learn some wintery words to get you through the next couple of months, you may find the following pages useful:

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Happy Bulgarian learning! :)

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