February 1, 2011

Saint Tryphon Cultural Celebration In Bulgaria

February 1st is the professional holiday of Bulgarian wine producers - the Day of St. Tryphon. On this day is the traditional cutting in the vineyards - one of the most important agricultural activities.

Proper pruning allows the vine to get maximum sunlight, good contact with air, but also to regulate the yield of grapes.

St. Tryphon is known as a patron of vineyards only in the Balkans, mainly where Bulgarians and Greeks live. St. Tryphon’s day is also considered for a celebration of gardeners and tavern-keepers who are under the patronage of the saint.

The beginnings of the holiday must be sought in the famous Dionysian festivals in ancient Greece. In the images of Dionysus, he is presented as a god with a wreath of ivy and vine on the head. The Bulgarians image of Saint Tryphon is enriched by different legends. The most famous of all is associated with the saint, who cut off his nose when cutting twigs on the vineyard, then he received the name Snub-nosed Tryphon.

On St. Tryphon’s day the ritual cutting of the vines takes place. It prompts for the approaching spring and the beginning of agricultural activity. Trimming is mainly done by men, but the housewife has kneaded and baked warm bread from early morning. The bread is decorated with a trellis vine, heavy with fruit – grapes, which have been modeled from the paste. She has prepared a chicken stuffed with manna croup and all this is placed into colorful new bag. Early in the morning she gives it to the householder with wooden wine vessels full of wine and sends him to the gate. After the traditional church service the men head to the vineyards, leaded by a piper.

Actions performed here are similar throughout the country. Each farmer as soon as he arrives at his vineyard, turns towards the sun and makes the sign of the cross three times. Then they cut the root of three bars and water the place with red wine, holy water and ashes saved from the Christmas Eve fireplace. Trimming is accompanied by the blessings of a rich yield. They roll the fresh cut sticks into a whorls and put it on their fur hats, carrying wooden wine vessels on shoulders, and some bring them home and put them on the icon. Then the men gather in the vineyards at a common table and place the meals they have brought with them. The feast is accompanied by traditional songs and dances.

Villa Vinifera wine cellar reserves and continues reviving the tradition. For the feast of St. Tryphon the cellar has its own custom - fifty mummers chase evil spirits from the vineyard and winery with dancing and ringing of bells, a king of the vineyard is elected with skillful hands, owning property, healthy, with warm heart and of course with a good attitude to wine. Trimming is accompanied by the blessing of prosperity. After the ritual is over the feast continues in the cellar with plenty of wine, songs and dances.