The church honors St. Nicholas of Myra, the miracle worker. Born in 280 in the province of Lycia in Asia Minor, he was proclaimed Archbishop of Myra during the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great.
He participated in the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea. He died in 325. He became famous for his sea wonders in rescuing ships and sailors from a wreck.
Rituals and Traditions of St. Nicholas Day
Bulgarians honor Saint Nicholas as the patron saint of fishermen and sailors and as the master of the vast waters – the oceans, seas, rivers and lakes. According to popular belief, the sacred causes sea storms and hurricanes.
When he is angry, he gives air to the wind, the sea shakes, and sinks ships. So on St. Nicholas Day, all the gems stop moving to appease and honor the patron saint.
A mandatory moment in the traditional Sinterklaas ritual is the consumption of fish. Usually women prepare carp, as it is believed that the carp is a “servant” of Saint Nicholas. Once, when the saint was swimming in the sea with his boat and the strong waves broke through the bottom, he reached with his hand into the water, caught a carp and closed the crack with it.
Thus he saved his companions from drowning. Since then, the custom of sacrificing carp in honor of the saint, whose feast day the Bulgarians also call “Fish St. Nicholas”, “Wet St. Nicholas” or “Fish Church”, has continued. Typically, carp are filled with rice, bulgur, walnuts, onions and raisins, packed and baked into dough. The festive dish prepared in this way is known as a “fish pond”.
Popular tradition dictates the ritual Ribnik and the loaves are consecrated in a church or at home, and pieces of it distributed to neighbors. Most fish ponds and breads should be eaten during the family dinner. The Sinterklaas table is not raised all day and is available to guests.
Saint Nicholas is not only the patron saint of those named after him, he is also a personal and family patron, on which a family holiday is arranged, called service, prayer, church.
Relatives, godparents and neighbors are invited to this holiday and a large table is inaugurated, which ends with songs and cheerfulness. After the incense, the priest takes the carp’s tail wrapped in leavened dough. The bones of the St. Nicholas carp are not thrown away, but burned, buried in the ground, or thrown into the river – this is believed to preserve and enhance fertility and family well-being.
According to custom, the housewives keep the bone of the carp’s head, which is shaped like a cross. This bone “crumb” or “bottom” is considered unusually healing. Mothers sew it on the hats of their newborn children to protect them from “evil eyes” and lessons.
On Saint Nicholas Day, in addition to a fish pond and ritual loaves, there should be lean dishes on the table: boiled corn, wheat, lean plums, peppers, beans.
Beliefs for St. Nicholas Day
When cleaning the fish, the women take care that the scales do not fall to the ground, for it is believed that if a man steps there, he gets sick and dies.
The bone of the head, which resembles a cross, is reserved for healing childhood diseases.
When a new boat is created, an icon of St. must be built in it. Николай. It is believed to protect the boat from storms and wind
On this day name day is celebrated by: Nikola, Nikolay, Nikolina, Nikoleta, Nenka, Nina, Nino, Kolyo