• English Translation

    National High School for Humanities and Arts “Konstantin Preslavski” in Varna

    Who we are

    We are pupils from the National High School for Humanities and Arts “Konstantin Preslavski” in Varna, Bulgaria.

    Every Saturday morning we get together and participate voluntarily in the„Cultura l Treasures of Asparuhovo“workshop, organised by Mrs. Eleonora Nikolova. Together, we research the folklore culture of Bulgaria, preserved in the beautiful mountain village of Asparuhovo, located at an 85-kilometer distance from our town, close to the natural phenomenon of the Wonder Rocks.

    We spend a week there every summer as part of a unique folklore research expedition, organised exclusively by our school. We have a responsible mission – to study the past and popularise it, so we can help preserve it for the future.

    We have been supported by PECSD (Public Envoronmental Centre for Sustainable Development),Varna, for the past eight years.

    We have prepared for you a Christmas box, containing a description of the Christmas tradition in the village, called koleduvane. We wrote down the elderly people’s recipe for Christmas cookies, which are a type of ritual festive bread.

    Our wishes in the card are taken from traditional for Asparuhovo folklore songs. As their symbol, we are sending you a barduche - a musical instrument you can play on once you fill it halfway with water. It is made by the local potter.

    The souvenir we created is a small “survachka” – on the 1st of January, kids traditionally walk around the village with it and hit the back of every house owner, chanting wishes for health and longevity.

    The bread – symbol of life and power; the tree, representing the eternity and the good words, expressing the human spirit are incorporated in these three ritual elements. They have preserved the meaning of celebrating Christmas through time and translate the present into a successful future.

    Happy holidays!


    You can reach us through the Facebook page of our Asparuhovo school project: https://www.facebook.com/AsPaRuHoVo/

    We are expecting you!

    Our Christmas package

    How we celebrate Christmas

    “Koleduvane” in the village of Asparuhovo

    In the village of Asparuhovo the “Koleduvane”Christmas tradition is also known as "Stananik". On St .Nicholas’ Day (the latest), the boys, also known as "koladnici", are together and choose their leader - the "Stananik".He is a married man and should also be wealthy, strong and representing the community. He fasts for 40 days together with his wife, the “stananichka”, because it is believed that the fertility of the upcoming year depends on their family. The ones that have elected him as their leader are experienced “koladnici”, roughly 12 in number, and are going to be his “servants”. Once they have elected the new Stananik, his wife bakes a “pita” bread. While it is in the oven, the koladnici go and take a candle from the previous Stananik, which is lit up in the home of the new leader and has to burn off. Meanwhile, the Koladnici sing a traditional folklore song – “A king to be, on a chair he shall sit”; then the new Stananik breaks off the ready pita and gives a piece to all participants in the ritual.

    The Stananik has to provide a room in his house where the unmarried Asparuhovo lads who will be taking part in the Christmas tradition could gather every evening to learn the specific ritual songs from the old Koladnici. The “servants” have to sweep the floor and arrange wooden benches in the room; they need to provide water and make sure there is enough wood to keep warm. Once arranged, the room belongs to the Koladnici for the period between St. Nicholas and St. John’s Day.

    Early on Christmas Eve (Budnivecher) the Stananik sends his “servants” in couples for “kalesvane” – going around the village with a wooden wine vessel called “buklica”, calling the newlywed lads and the old koladnici to participate in the custom. There were times when the Koladnici group in Asparuhovo was as big as a hundred men, divided in three “kudi” (groups).The leader of the most“ lichna” (representative) kuda is the Stananik himself, and the others are led by his relatives who are helping him. Allkoladnici are dressed in new festive clothes and "iamurluci" (thick woollen overcoats) and their leaders are distinguished by carrying the buklica wine vessel decorated with a white linen cloth. At midnight, when the bells ring, they all go to the church for “konkvane” (communion). The kudas are traditionally divided in the eastern part of the village, where everyone sings “DobriDonchokalesankum da kumuva”.

    The kudas start their route around the village, moving westwards. They have to perform the Koleduvane in each and every house. If the Stananik realises that a house has been missed, the whole kuda needs to go back. At the outer porch they sing “Christ Was Born Tonight”, and if there is a maiden in the house – “StaniStaniDoine le” (“Get up Doine”). When they pass the first step towards the second storey of the house, they start singing “Sveti Georgi izbavia tri sindjira, prevzetiotstarataiuda” (“St. George Saves Three Slave Chains From the Old Iuda”; iuda – an evil folklore creature). The owner of the house takes a sip from the buklica and invites the koladnici inside, where they sit and sing a song for every member of the family. It is compulsory that they sing to a lad or a maiden; to newlyweds or to a new-born – if the child is in the cradle, they sing next to it. It is also obligatory to sing a song for a soldier who is not present in the house. There are specific songs meant to sing for twins, childless women; for the priest, the pig-tender;for shepherds, farmers, girls taking care of young children, old women (babi) who are midwifes (babuvat).

    The house owners give the koledari a cloth, unspun wool, money and a round Christmas bread (kravai), made by the maiden in the home. On his way out, the leader of the kuda “preskudia” (hops over) the youngest boy in the house; afterwards, holding the round bread given to him by the family with both hands high above his head, he says a blessing, mentioning the name of the young boy. If there is none in the house, it is replaced by the name of the Stananik.

    On their way out, the koladnici sing “I niiottuka, a Gospodtuka” (“We are from here, and Christ is here”). If a person in the house died recently, they do not enter the home. The maiden passes them the kravai over the porch.

    When they finish their round around the houses, the koladnici get together in the upper part of the village. If one of the kudas is late, they sing a song to mock it. After everyone arrives, the Stananik, covered with his iamurluk and a buklica in hand, leads an open horo (traditional dance) called “buenec”. The koladnici hold each other’s poias (wide woollen belt spun around the waist) and go to the home of the Stananik, singing and dancing. They are welcomed at the porch by the festively-dressed stananichka with a big copper vessel (bakur), full of wine. She gives linen cloths to three of the old koladnici and kisses their hand, gives them a ladle of wine to drink from, they take a sip and throw the rest behind their back. Afterwards she joins the horo next to the Stananik.

    The buenec dance is danced in a formation of three circles, and the Stananik as well as the rest after him, go under the hands of the other dancers. Sometimes they carry the Stananik and some of the koladnici to the first storey of the house.

    Early in the morning on the next day, the koladnici gather in the house of the Stananik to make a “dervish” – one of them dresses up in an old iamurluk and puts a pillow under it so he looks like an old hunchback. His face is covered with ash, he has a long beard and moustache made from unspun hemp and holds a wooden dagger in his hand. He is walking around with his “bride” – a lad with no moustache, dressed in female clothes, wearing a white veil and carrying a distaff on his poias. The dervish and his bride, accompanied by „sisters-in-law“ – three lads carrying long linen cloths over their shoulders, walk around the village and whenever he meets an old person, the dervish “slays” him with his dagger, the bride kisses his hand and receives money. Before lunch the bride unveils her face at the cheshma (the common water source at the village) and the real brides eat a honey-coated kravai, specially prepared for the occasion.

    A bidding for the maidens’ honey kravai starts after the “dervish” ritual. Each kravai has a distinctive mark and the lads bid for the one belonging to their crush. If they manage to buy it, they win the right to eat it together with the maiden at a certain day.

    In the same day, the koladnici buy a ram with the money they have collected, calling it “bojikurban” (God’s sacrifice) and cook it in the house of the Stananik. Afterwards, they invite the elderly people in the village for a meal and buy red slippers for the Stananik, which he will receive on St John’s day. Before the meal the koladnici sing a song of blessing.

    After their guests leave, the lads dance buenec in the Stananik’s yard and sing Christmas songs. They do the same every day until St John’s Day.

    On St John’s Day, the newlyweds and the celibate young men gather separately early in the morning. Led by the sound of bagpipes, dancing in a horo and shouting out loud, they go to wash in the river. The group of the newlyweds crosses the river in ox carriages. The bagpipes play, the two groups go in the river, fight, fool around and run back to change clothes. Then they go to the house of the Stananik and carry him outside. They put him in a carriage - some of the men pull it, and others push it. If they meet elderly people on their way, they put them in the carriage next to the Stananik.

    The carriage, led by the sound of bad pipes, is transported to the river. There the lads fill a small copper vessel with water from the river and put dry basil inside. They wash the face of the Stananik with it, as well as those of the elderly people that came with them.

    Afterwards, they bring the Stananik back home, where they have lunch. Before the meal, the lads give the red slippers to the Stananik as a present, and sing the festive blessing song from the “kurban”. Then they dance buenec in the yard until the sun sets, when the Stananik goes out in the yard and leads the dance out through the front porch to end the custom.

    Up until today, the full tradition with all its rituals is being performed in Asparuhovo, which helps preserve the authentic Christmas ritual songs with their ancient origins. We learned that nowadays the young koladnici save a part of the money they collect to support the Pensioner Club in the village, the gathering place of the elderly men. In that way, the tradition maintains the communication between the generations and expresses a collective willpower to deal with the struggles of everyday life.

    Recipes Christmas cookies

    1kg flour, 500g yoghurt, 1 table spoon baking soda, 4 eggs, 1 table spoon oil, 1 1/2 tea cup sugar

    Sift the flour. Mix the yoghurt and the baking soda beforehand, and add the mixture to the flour. Knead a soft dough and let it stay until it rises. Shape balls and cover them with egg yolk and sugar before baking.

  • Original Language

    National High School for Humanities and Arts “Konstantin Preslavski” in Varna

    Who we are

    Our Christmas package

    How we celebrate Christmas

    Recipes Christmas cookies

  • Additional Translations

    Who we are

    Our Christmas package

    How we celebrate Christmas

    Recipes Christmas cookies