The Holy Transfiguration And The Assumption (The Virgin Mary s Day)


        The Transfiguration is a big Christian and popular Holiday. It is connected with a miraculous event – the advent of Jesus Christ in celestial glory in front of three of his students – Petеr, Yaakov and John, in order to strengthen the faith in His Heavenly nature.
        The Holiday is also connected with the durable transformation of the nature and with the new hope people to transform themselves, to become better. That is why it is celebrated at the end of the Christian church year, on August 6 during the Virgin Mary’s fasting.
        Traditionally on this holiday in the Bulgarian Orthodox church, people sanctify and bless the grapes. On this day, the citizens of Veliko Tarnovo usually go to church called “Preobrajenie /Transfiguraion/” in the Preobrajenie monastery. They give out the sanctified fruit – grapes, apples for health and for the peace of dead souls of relatives and neighbours. Until this day, people are not allowed to pick, to buy or to eat grapes, because it is not christened, that is what the old inhabitants of the town say. Although blackberries ripen before grapes people also should not eat them before the sanctification of grapes. It is reckoned that blackberry is a devilish kind of fruit and a person may fall under the influence of the devil. There is a belief that a sick person should drink water, in which there were soaked dried fruits, in order to conquer the disease. From far back wine has been a constant part of the holiday rite. It is claimed that red wine in definite quantity protects heart from all kinds of diseases.
        Ten days after the Transfiguration people in Bulgaria pay tribute to The Virgin Mary’s Day. The Assumption is an observed Christian holiday after Christmas and Easter. The image of the Virgin Mary is one of the most painted in compositions in the iconography. Wordy, with an educational influence and of high artistic merit are the compositions in the church “St. George” in Asenov district. The main composition is “The Assumpion”. With greater impressiveness and in the style of the Tarnovo Artistic school from the end of XIV and the beginning of the XV century, the same scene can be seen in the church “St. st. Peter and Paul” in Asenov district. On this day at the places, where the Virgin Mary is a patron of the local church, people celebrate a patron saint's day. Many worshippers crowd in the monastery “The Assumption” in the village of Arbanassi every year. This is the holiday of the village, which was celebrated from XIX century to the second half of the XX century. Now the holiday is renovated with new elements including old ethnographic habits.
        On the day of the Assumption we celebrate the holiday of the Holy Virgin /the protectress of the motherhood and the defender of the family fireplace/. It is also a  name-day of  the people who have the names Maria and Panayot. The name Maria is widespread Christian name in different versions like Mariola and Moli. The name Panayot is also widespread; it comes from Greek and means “The Virgin Mary, glorified by everyone”. People celebrating their name day prefer to go outside. In the morning the citizens of Veliko Tarnovo go to church “The Assumption of the Holy Virgin” in Asenov district or to the monastery with the same name in the village of Arbanassi. They give out the sanctified fruit – grapes, watermelons, and ritual ring-shaped buns for health and for the peace of dead souls. In the past, they used to gather at places where there is spring water, like the fountain “Kamenets” in Arbanassi, the small or the big fountain in the place called Ksilifor, the fountain in Dervenya – also the so-called Officer's fountain, the fountains in Zelenka, Kachitsa and other lovely places. The group of guests used to sing modern town songs, which are famous today as old town songs. In the funds of the museum are preserved separate samples of the utensils and other necessities, which they used. They come from the old families of the town. To the middle of the XX century on the Assumption, people who were richer and more intellectual used to invite their guests in the public garden or in the restaurant in front of the tourist hut of Tsarevets.
        On the Virgin Mary’s Day, some wealthy men called Panayot /Panayot Angelov, Panayot Minchev Belchev and other donors/ used to donate bounteous endowment to children from orphanages, to homes for old people, to schools and to community centres. Both on the St. Peter’s Day and on the Assumption great endowments were donated to churches in money or in church plate.
    Nadka Vasileva – a curator in the Ethnography department
    Regional Historical Museum – Veliko Tarnovo