On November 21, the day of the Presentation of Virgin Mary (or the Entry of the most Holy Theotokos into the Temple), the Orthodox Bulgarians also celebrate the Day of the Christian Family and the Learning Youth. The holiday was established by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in 1929 to remind parents of their spiritual obligations to their children.
Almost a century later we continue to see young families in Bulgarian churches who have preserved the spiritual Orthodox traditions. Among them are Sylvia and Asparuh Tsvetanov from Sofia, who, thanks to their love for God, manage to withstand the challenges of the modern world:
"I believe that in this difficult time, when many people are sick, suffering and dying, the Orthodox family can find strength in God”, Sylvia Tsvetanova believes. “Faith gives strength, a cheerful spirit in difficult times and the opportunity to remain calm, no matter what happens to us. And peace in difficult times is something that only God can give us. Where there is faith, there is no fear. Whatever the time, the Christian family always educates children in goodness, in love, piety, faith, to help their neighbour”.
"Relationships in the Christian family, based on God's love, educate children to be good in their relations with people, animals”, adds Asparuh. "When they are raised in healthy families, they are the most difficult to manipulate, and the Christian family has this role in raising such children," Asparuh Tsvetanov says.
The author of contemporary Orthodox literature, Martin Ralchevski, a father of three, notes that upbringing of children in church traditions from an early age bears fruit at a later stage. "Confession, communion and church attendance, as well as conversations with Orthodox priests, have an impact," he says. “Children build critical thinking and observe the so-called "modern" tendencies that contradict God's laws with a pinch of salt, the writer emphasizes.
However, in the material world, when everything is based on the creation of wealth, family values seem to give way and fewer and fewer people marry:
"In my opinion, it is 90-95% the fault of the man," Martin Ralchevski believes. “Almost every woman, if she loves a man, would like to marry him. These are the fears of the modern weak, complex man, who doubts his abilities. For this reason, cohabitation is without blessing, and this is contrary to our faith and God's commandments. The Christian family has to get married, then have children and build from there”.
For years on end, fewer and fewer children are being born in Bulgaria. According to Martin Ralchevski, the reasons for this are mostly related to material difficulties:
"Parents themselves see that more and more can be given. They do not just want to give them life, as it was generations ago, when people saw children as a blessing, but they seek to satisfy them materially. Thus they become subject to their fears. I have touched on this topic more than once with my wife, because I myself have been in a similar dilemma, but my wife insisted. This is the faith in God - not to be afraid of the future, but to entrust it to Him”, the writer concludes.