Christmas, Koleda  (December 25) 

In the Bulgarian folk calendar Christmas (Koleda) is also known as Bozhik, Bozhich, Golyama Koleda.

The festive atmosphere of Christmas Eve  would spread over Christmas night. The waits would go about and extend blessings to their hosts, as well as sing ritual songs. One of the most ancient of them, preserved to this day, is in the form of a dialogue.

The carol singers' group started singing:

    Stani nine gospodine,
    gospodine - bolyarine.
    Zaspal li si - sabudi se!
    Piyan li si, otrezvi  se!
    Otvori ni chemshir-porti,
    chemshir-porti, stari vrati,
    che ti idem dobri gosti,
    dobri gosti - koledare
    i ti nossim dobri vesti:
    Bog se kani da ti doide.
    Mozh li Boga da psreshtnesh i nagostish
    i vaz Boga sbor anghele?

The host replied:

    Moga, moga, dobre doshli,
    dobre doshal, neka doide!
    Da mi sedne na trapeza,
    a pri nego - sbor anghele
    s dobri goste-koledare.

After the end of the song, the leader of the group would bless in recitative the house and the livestock, and the hosts would present him with beans, lard, meat, Christmas ring-shaped buns and small coins.

In the morning everybody, dressed in their Sunday best, went to church and afterwards took part in a winding horo dance joined by young and old on the village square.

On this day, families exchanged visits. While Christmas Eve meals consisted of predominantly lenten fare, meat dishes were served on Christmas and the table was not cleared throughout the day. A ritual unleavened flat loaves were baked. Cooked were cheese or meat pasty, roasted liver, jerk, cabbage with blood pudding, pork with leeks, roasted hen, fried chopped pork.

Christmas is celebrated three days. On the first all those who bear the names of Christo and Christina celebrate their name day, and the third day, which worships Saint Archdeacon Stefan (Stephen), is celebrated by those who bear the saint's name.

According to folk belief, all the twelve days from 25 December to 7 January, are named "dirty", "pagan", "bogey's". During this period various evil forces were believed to be raving about and nobody went out before first cock-crow. Women did not wash, did not weave or spin. People also called these days "unchristened", for from Jesus Christ's birth up to 7 January, when John the Baptist baptized him, he was not initiated yet. During the "dirty" days carnival processions were arranged in some Bulgarian locations by way of continuation of the Christmas ritual.

Vera Grozeva, Orthodox Traditions and Ancient Bulgarian Beliefs, 1994.