Lazarus Saturday - a holiday that brings us hope even in difficult times

There was a time in the past when the streets of Bulgarian villages were filled with the songs of the lazarki girls on Saint Lazarus Saturday, performing the traditional ritual called “lazaruvane”. In this Bulgarian custom, young girls would dress their festive clothes, take to the streets from early dawn, walk from door to door and sing the special lazarki songs - a blessing for health, happiness and good luck. In Bulgarian folklore tradition, the day of Saint Lazarus (known here as Lazarovden) is associated with the fields, pastures and forests, but this is also the day of the young maidens girls for whom participating in this custom meant that they could now have a sweetheart and then go into wedlock.


However, old traditions have had a hard time resisting the rhythm and lifestyle of the modern day. In many places, this custom has been forgotten or there are simply not enough young girls to form a group of lazarki. There are also places where the flame of the folklore legacy is kept alive in the local community centres. New approaches are also being devised to bring the holiday closer to more people. For example, last year the residents of the municipality of Vratsa tried to approach the feast in a new way, gathering hundreds of people in the town square.


Today, however, for the first time, both in Vratsa and everywhere else in Bulgaria, the groups of lazarki girls will remain in their homes. The state of emergency and the restrictive measures against the spread of Covid-19 require people not to gather in groups and remain socially distanced until the pandemic is over. Our lives seem to have transferred to social networks, and it seems that the lazarki girls will also tour our homes virtually. The global network is already replete with photos of the custom from previous years. In Vratsa, they opened the albums with photos from the square in 2019. They will use these photos to lift the spirit of people and call on them to "stay home" this year:


“Last year's Lazarovden celebration was part of a comprehensive spring program in connection with our initiative to be together in Vratsa”, Stella Dimitrova from the Vratsa municipal administration says. “It turned out to be a very nice event, many children and their parents came. This year we will fully respect the ban on not going out, and we will only share the holiday on the Internet with photos from last year. We will be strict in observing all measures. It will not be easy, we will even be more simple with the decoration of the town for all holidays. We don't want to provoke people to go out. We will celebrate the holiday at home, within the family. "


English Rossitsa Petcova

Photos: vratza.bg and BGNES


More from category

Todor Todorov – the living encyclopedia of folklore

Among Bulgaria’s folklore musicians Todor Todorov is a true legend. For his knowledge of Bulgarian folklore, especially the performers, he is respected by the most thorough of researchers. And he learnt it all by himself – from recordings and..

published on 10/11/20 6:00 AM

Visiting the workshop of Rhodope master bagpiper Iliya Uchikov

The bagpipe is a traditional instrument not only for the Balkans but for the rest of Europe. In Bulgaria, two types of bagpipes are played – a s mall one called " jura " and a large " kaba ". The Rhodope region is known all over the world for the..

published on 9/30/20 4:37 PM

The magic of Bulgarian folklore comes to life in Bourgas

The show “The seven wonders of Bulgaria” will come to life on 12 September in the space between the Sea Casino cultural centre and the Ohlyuva (the Snail) stage in Bourgas on the Black Sea. The audience will be able to enjoy performances by folk..

published on 9/12/20 6:10 AM