Preparation for Easter among Orthodox Christians in Bulgaria begins with act of mutual forgiveness

On the last day before the start of the Great Lent (March 10th this year)/or seven weeks before Easter, Orthodox Christians celebrate the feast of Forgiveness Sunday. In the church liturgy on this day Christ's words are read: "If you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:15)

Known by its popular name of Cheesefare Sunday or the Day of Forgiveness, the day is filled with many rituals. Tradition requires that everyone should ask for forgiveness from the people around them about the grievances and offences they might have voluntarily or unintentionally caused, as well as seek within themselves the power to forgive those who have hurt them.

According to folk traditions, on the evening of the feast sons, daughters, and grandchildren gather at the house of their parents and grandparents in order to prepare for the Great Lent, putting dairy foods at their table. The younger ask the older for forgiveness, children ask forgiveness from their parents, newly-weds from their godmother and godfather (marriage sponsors), kissing their hand and saying "Forgive me" as "May God forgive, be forgiven!" is the obligatory answer.

A typical custom of the past associated with this day is the burning of fires. Once the flames become less strong, young people jump over them for health during the year. Then people gather around the fires dancing a chain dance and singing songs.

Photo: BTA

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