Bulgaria Honors Midwife Day, Keeps Alive Purely Local Rites
Midwife Day or in Bulgarian Babin Den, is a purely Bulgarian holiday. The name Babin Den comes from the Bulgarian word “baba”, which means old woman or grandmother because in the past old women have been the village midwives, helping the younger ones to give birth. (Den means day in Bulgarian.)
Babin Den is a day to show respect and gratitude to those, who have helped women become mothers. The celebration has pagan roots, but has remained a significant holiday all through Bulgarian history, especially during the Bulgarian Renaissance.
On Babin Den, at dawn, mothers of toddlers and babies go to the village fountain to get fresh water. They take the water along with a bar of soap and a new towel to the midwife’s house to do a rite washing of her hands. The women hand the midwife the soap, help her wash her hands and offer her the towel as a gift. The midwife wipes her hands in the young women’s skirts so that they can bear many children and give birth easily.
The midwife also receives as gifts shirts and socks, which the mothers throw over her right shoulder. On her part, she gives the children she helped deliver a silver coin, socks and shirts. She also washes the children’s faces with the water, which once being used by the midwife, is believed to have purifying powers.
It was further believed that in order for the delivery to go without problems, the midwife needed to light a float light, close all the windows and untie everything in the house that was tied. The delivery itself was kept secret from everyone with the exception of the midwife and the mother-in-law. The new mother was not allowed to get out of bed or to stay alone until the child was baptized.
In the evening, all midwives sit down to a generous table. Men are not allowed to join the festivities and hardly would anyone dare breach the rule. (via Novinite.com)
Bulgaria: I Cannot Ban Chalga Music in Schools, says Education Minister
Asked to comment on a video showing uniformed junior students dancing to a song of the scandalous Roma pop-folk singer Azis, Education Minister Sergey Ignatov has said that it is beyond his power to ban chalga in schools.
The video, which shortly went viral thanks to youtube and social networks, is part of a reportage of Radio Vidin, the local program of the Bulgarian National Radio, on March 8 celebrations in Vidin.
To congratulate the women working at the municipal administration and the regional education inspectorate, the children from the “Zvanche” (“Bell”) kindergarten and the “Sofronii Vrachanski” elementary school in the northwestern city of Vidin performed a dance show.
Part of the dance routines were played to a song of Azis, chalga singer and an eminent cross-dresser.
"Is this singer banned by some authority? By the Council for Electronic Media (SEM), for instance? If I introduce a ban on playing his songs in schools in my capacity as an Education Minister, we shall be held liable for discrimination. If I don’t, I shall also face accusations. This is why other institutions need to come up with a pronouncement. That said, my opinion is that appropriate pieces of music should be chosen considering the age of the children," Ignatov told journalists on Wednesday. (via Novinite.com)
After a Bulgarian was busted trying to smuggle monitor lizards, tortoises, snakes, caimans, pythons, chameleons and other peculiar animals into the country with the use of suitcases, the creatures have been quarantined in the Sofia zoo.
One or two of the animals have reportedly undergone medical treatment. Most of them are still babies, so they have been placed under ultraviolet light in order to prevent rickets.
The Sofia zoo has sought assistance from foreign experts on how to deal with the exotic creatures. Several zoos abroad have been contacted and asked for advice, Sofia zoo director Ivan Ivanov has told the Bulgarian National Radio.
Ten of the species captured in Monday’s bizarre smuggling operation have never before inhabited the zoo (via Novinite.com)
In the German city of Duisburg, the suburb of Hochfeld is known for its vibrancy. It’s home to people from 100 different nations. But with the recent influx of eastern European migrants, the community has changed. (via DW.DE)
Greek-Jewish group demands UN recognise Bulgaria’s role in slaughter
A Greek-Jewish umbrella group has requested that the United Nations note Bulgaria’s role in slaughtering Greek Jews while also commemorating the country’s rescue of its own Bulgarian Jews during World War 2.
"Bulgarians saved their country’s Jews in exchange for the Jews of the other territories under their control," said a letter sent from the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece to the U.N. Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organisations. "In the name of the historical memory of our brothers, victims of the Bulgarian atrocities in our country during the Holocaust, we ask you to include this small and ‘untold’ part of history in your briefing."
Bulgarian occupiers of northeastern Greece handed over about 4000 Greek Jews to the Nazis for extermination.
The Bulgarian government of the time, under the leadership of King Boris, did not send any of its Jewish population to the death camps. (via The Sofia Echo)