The Balkans: Spring Festival Parade

The Balkans: Spring Festival Parade

Source: Lyubov Ivanova
In early March, Baba Marta was welcomed in the towns and villages of Bulgaria. On this day, at the famous ski resort of Bansko, the fabulous granny presented everyone with red and white martinique headbands, which are worn before the appearance of storks. Then they make a wish and tie a martinique on a flowering bush. And since the storks returned to Bulgaria unusually early this year, by the end of the month the bushes and trees of Bansko were already full of white and red bandages.

In March, Bulgarians celebrated another unusual and very colorful holiday – Todorov Day or Horse Easter. This year it fell on the 23rd. It was celebrated in the villages of Bulgaria, including in the small settlement of Bachevo in the south-west of the country. There is just a cult of horses here, and on Todor's day, horses decorated with flowers gracefully walked through all the streets of the village, causing delight and admiration of the audience.

Interestingly, this Bulgarian holiday was also celebrated in the Romanian town of Torgoviste. The fact is that for 170 years there has been a Bulgarian community of 700 people living here, who have preserved the customs of their ancestors. A prayer service with lighting of ritual loaves was held in the Bulgarian church "St. Nifont". The invited guests, including Romanian Vice President Iliana Yotova, were able to enjoy the festive horse procession, which has already become part of the cultural heritage of Bulgarians.

Literally at the same time, a traditional fish festival was held in the Romanian capital. Chefs from all over the country delighted the residents of Bucharest with a variety of fish dishes. For this purpose, hundreds of kilograms of seafood were brought here. Fish soup made from pike, catfish, carp and carp with the addition of onions, peppers and tomatoes was very popular.

And in the Greek Galaxidi in March, flour battles took place, which attracted crowds of tourists here. Bags of colored flour flew over the heads of the audience until late at night. In this original way, the beginning of Lent is celebrated here. This tradition originated in Galaxidi more than two hundred years ago, when the Ottomans who ruled the country imposed a ban on carnival celebrations. In protest, local residents began throwing "shells" from bags of ash and flour. In this form, the tradition has reached our days. Today, it takes almost 2 tons of flour to make flour "bombs".

The city of Strumice in the Republic of North Macedonia was also pleased with the colorful international carnival. More than 1000 guests from all over the world came here. The various masks and unusual costumes of the parade participants made a stunning impression on numerous spectators, among whom was the President of the European Federation of Carnival Cities, Lars Algel. He presented the mayor with a commemorative medal in honor of the 30th anniversary of Strumica's membership in the FECC (Federation of European Carnival Cities).

Spring festivals will continue in the Balkans until the end of May.
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