May 6th is one of the most meritable national holidays. We honour St. George's Day (Gergyovden - Гергьовден) who is also a patron of the Bulgarian Army.

History of the Celebration

For the first time, May 6 was proclaimed the Army's Day on January 9, 1880, after Knyaz Alexander Battenberg's military decree that foujnded the country's military troops. In 1946 it was banned by the Communist Party, only to be reinstated again on January 27, 1993 by the new democratic Bulgarian government. From 1998 till today, it is celebrated as a national holiday, a day off for both workers and students around Bulgaria.

On this day the national army marks their celebration with military parades and many other events. The long Bulgarian history has witnessed numerous victories and staggering defeats, therefore such celebrations serve to remind us of our great deeds and teach us respect the past.

St. George's Day

St. george icon

What's more, May 6 also notes the national feast Gergyovden, the day of one of the most popular Christian saints - St. George. The Victorious one has been canonized by many a churches across Europe because of his bravery. His icon is depicted as a horseman on a white horse, with a spear stabbing the throat of a dragon. The belief was that the dragon used to attack the shepherds and their sheep and steeling the animals.

One of the rituals is to cook and eat a whole lamb, which practice probably relates to ancient Slavic pagan times and the fact that St. George's also happens to be the patron of shepherds.

Apart from Bulgaria, St. George's is celebrated in many other ESN Countries - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, England, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Romania, Serbia and Macedonia, even though in some of them not on the same date.

George or Georgi, also happens to be one of the most popular given names for Bulgarians. Today there are 171 356 people, who chose to have this great name. Bulgarians are known to celebrate name days, too, as George has different variations and derivatives. Let's wish everyone whose name is praised today health and prosperity!

Celebrations Throughout the Country

Want to check out where today there will be celebrations in the cities with ESN Sections throughout Bulgaria? Have a look here (link in Bulgarian).