So it was velik den (which is the post title) or Easter last weekend. I promised a run-down of Bulgo-Easter events so here goes:
I ended up spending Easter in my town with a friend and her family. She told us all week that we were going to make traditional Easter bread, Kozonak, and dye eggs at some point before Sunday. But on Friday we weren't supposed to do any work all day because it was Good Friday, so we couldn't dye eggs or make bread then because that was work. So we saved all the fun for Saturday. All week long teachers at my school had been buying crates of eggs from the teachers with hens. They take egg dying seriously here. It's not just a dozen or so... it's about three to five dozen or more. Crazy! The coloring they use is also much more vibrant and works really well with the brown eggs. Saturday we all ended up at Dani's for the festivities. We started out by dying eggs. Sehee and I had received Easter Baskets from a friend in the states so we brought our ready-made American dye kits, which were quite unusual and well talked over. We had a glitter-egg kit which went over fantastically well. The table was spread with bowls of deep Bulgarian dyes, pastel American dyes, and glitter, oh and about 4 dozen eggs. Then they broke out the netting, onion peels, and leaves. Yes, in Bulgaria they wrap eggs in onion peels, flowers, leaves, and nets then stick them in panty hose and boil them. It's crazy! They make really pretty nature-looking designs. I was impressed. Of course, being Bulgarian and always prepared for guests to have all the fun, they had already boiled all the eggs for us so Dani, Dan, Ljudmil, Sehee, and I got to have all the fun of dying with none of the work :) No complaints. After we had dyed all the eggs Dani baffled me again, she poured oil in the dyes and started re-dying. It was crazy! In my family I guess we just stuck to the plain, old boring dye jobs but here they go all out. Dani showed us how to swirl the egg as we put it in the oiled dye and make tie-dye type patterns.
So when the eggs were finished all the non-Bulgos were wondering if it was time to eat (I guess that's just what we do in America and being 4 pm at that point my stomach was grumbling). But no, no more fun to come. Food takes last place. So we finished and decided we would inaugurate the first-annual Easter egg hunt for Dani's little cousin. They don't do Easter egg hunts here so it was a fun production and there was lots of cultural exchange happening (Peace Corps would be proud). After the Hunt we started to set up the grill, which was brand new and unused. Then we put together some Shish-Kebabs, cut some pork fillets, open packages of kufte (meatball-ish things) and kebapche (sausage-ish things) to grill as soon as the fire was ready. When we finally ate there was enough food for about 20 people, but there were only 10 of us. No matter how much we ate I kept hearing "oh the shish-kebabs are done, time to eat." Finally I just had to be a rude and say "there is no way any more food could possibly fit into my body. I will not eat for days after this. I have had my meat quota for about two years." Well maybe I didn't quite say all that, but I did have to stop eating, which was rude. So after all the food was cooked and some of it was eaten we realized it was 11.30 and we were going to be late for church. Oh, 11.30 pm.
So the biggest, and to me coolest, tradition they have here for Easter is walking around the church. Perhaps this sounds boring, but when there are over 500 people with candles circling in a small church courtyard three times led by three singing priests with a big cross and big candles, it's pretty cool. So besides some wax on my jacket it was awesome. After three go-rounds we all met outside, because of course we had all been separated, and started the "egg breaking" tradition. Now, no one had sufficiently explained the "egg breaking" tradition to me. I asked several times and got a general "We try to break each others eggs" response each time. So when I hear that to me that says "Break some eggs." So I was out to break some eggs. Little did I know the object wasn't to break eggs, but to gently tap the other persons egg and see if one broke. So as I smash the egg of Dani's uncle and see the look on his face I realize I had done something wrong. You can't win 'em all...
It was a great Easter, probably the best of my adult life.