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Bulgarian Holidays and Observations That Follow the Liturgical Calendar

GuideBG Glimpse

In Bulgaria, as in many Orthodox Christian countries, several holidays and observances follow the liturgical calendar and are therefore influenced by the same calculations determining the date of Orthodox Easter. These include:

Great Lent

Great Lent (Велики пости) is the Orthodox Christian period of preparation for Easter, involving fasting and prayer. Easter determines its start date; it begins on Clean Monday 48 days before Easter Sunday and lasts 40 days (not counting Sundays).

Lazarus Saturday (Лазаровден)

Celebrated on the day before Palm Sunday, Lazarus Saturday occurs eight days before Easter. It commemorates the resurrection of Lazarus by Jesus and serves as a prelude to the resurrection of Christ celebrated at Easter.

Todorovden (Тодоровден)

Todorovden, also known as the Feast of Saint Theodore, is another significant holiday in Bulgaria that is influenced by the Orthodox Christian liturgical calendar. However, its calculation does not directly depend on the date of Easter. Todorovden is celebrated on the first Saturday of the Great Lent. While its date is indirectly related to Easter because the timing of Great Lent itself depends on Easter, Todorovden follows a more specific placement within the Lenten season.

Palm Sunday (Цветница or Връбница)

This Sunday before Easter commemorates Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. It is celebrated by the blessing and distribution of branches (willow in Bulgaria, as palms are not readily available), symbolizing the palm branches the crowd scattered in front of Christ as he entered Jerusalem.

Ascension Day (Спасовден)

Ascension Day celebrated on the fortieth day after Easter, marks the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. Its date depends directly on Easter.

Pentecost (Петдесетница or Духовден)

This holiday occurs fifty days after Easter Sunday, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the New Testament. It’s also known as the birthday of the Church.

These holidays are integral to the Orthodox Christian liturgical calendar and share the same calculation basis as Easter. Thus, they are moveable feasts that change dates yearly according to Easter’s timing. The alignment with Easter means that these holidays, like Easter itself, are celebrated on different dates from their counterparts in churches that follow the Gregorian calendar for liturgical observances.

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