As we all know St. Valentine’s Day is the day of Love. What about Trifon Zarezan? It is the national festival of vine-growing and wine-producing. According to the old calendar, Trifonovden used to be on the 1st February. Nowadays, everyone chooses on which date to celebrate it, but some Bulgarians have decided to honour the name of St. Trifon both on the 1st and the 14th February!
The Thracians were the first to think highly of wine and wine-trade. The legend tells that King Lycurgus the Thrace once sent the Dionysus’ retinue away. Later, Dionysus – the god of wine – took revenge making the king kill his own son while believing he was trimming the vine.
He was punished to cut off his nose with a pruning-knife as he mocked at the Virgin Mary.
These days, people have preserved the tradition and on the date of 14th February they go to the vine and cut off vine-twigs. This ritual together with saying wishes for fertility is a compulsory part of the custom.
In some parts of Bulgaria people believe that the cut off twigs must be brought home and everyone should possess one for good luck throughout the coming year. In other towns a ‘King of the Wine’ is selected among the inhabitants and is awarded a vine-twig wreath. Usually, the festival begins in the early morning and continues in the King’s home during the afternoon.
Thinking over the festival’s table, we should bear in mind buying chicken, dried fruits and nuts. If you are willing to prepare home-made bread, you are more than welcome. In the past, housekeepers used to get up at the crack of dawn and make the ritual bread. The main dish must be chicken, usually stuffed with rise or groats.