February 14th — a celebration of love… and wine

Throughout the world this day is known as a day to celebrate love and how much you cherish your significant other. But here in Bulgaria, this day has another meaning. It is known as the day for celebration of wine – the Day of St. Tryphon (since the 70s of the last century it is even an official professional holiday of wine producers and vine growers). On the Balkans (in Bulgaria and Greece), St. Tryphon is known as patron of the vineyards.
This holiday has quite an ancient origin – the Dionysian festivals that took place in ancient Greece. Dionysus is always pictured with a wreath of ivy and vine. Bulgarians have enriched the image of St. Tryphon in different legends, the most famous being the one that tells about the saint, who cut off his nose while cutting twigs in his vineyard – that is how he got his name Snub-nosed Tryphon.

The day of St. Tryphon is when the ritual cutting of the vines is performed. This marks the beginning of agricultural activities and spring's soon coming. Men and women each have their duties during this day – the man does the trimming, and the woman kneads special bread early in the morning, decorated with vine with grapes, shaped in the dough, prepares a stuffed chicken and puts everything in a colourful new bag, which she gives to the man early in the morning together with full wine vessels.
Men, lead by a piper, go to the vineyards after the church service and perform the ritual cuttings. It basically includes the following actions: each farmer stands towards the sun, makes the sign of the cross three times, cuts the root of three bars and perfuses the soil around with red wine, holy water and ashes, preserved from the fireplace on Christmas Eve. Usually, trimming is accompanied by blessings for a rich yield. The freshly cut sticks are rolled together and put on the fur hats of the farmers (some men bring those at home and put them on an icon. After the trimming, men gather around a common table and put the meals they brought with them together. A feast begins, accompanied by traditional dances and songs.

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