Todorovden (or Tudoritsa) is a Bulgarian holiday that’s an occasion to see horse races outside of betting areas. Traditionally in the morning of this day well-decorated (well-dressed?) horses are led to a stream or a river to ritually drink. Later on with all festivities surrounding it (traditionally yeast bread, mushroom soup and lentils, but nowadays more like cotton candy, sausages and lutenitsa) they perform race, where the winner later on goes through all the houses with the winning horse to bring happiness and luck to all their inhabitants.
This year I have been witnessing this celebration in Sapareva Banya, lovely small village with a surprisingly located small airport next to it, on the foothill of Rila mountains. Horses looked definitely like they were having a celebration – some parading with beads, pompoms and ribbons, some racing on a grassland next to the airport runway. Definitely having a day off, I would say, except for ones that took part in competition with heavy carts.
The best photo opportunities were at the backstage of the whole event, with scenic mountains in the background:
The celebration is carried out on different day each year as it is connected to Easter. Pretty strange for a name day to be moving around, but here is the explanation: it commemorates saint Todor Tiron and the events of one particular Easter in 4th century. In the time of Christian prosecutions in the Roman Empire by Julian the Apostate, he decided to humiliate them and trick into eating food that is forbidden during the Easter fasting. As the Lent started he ordered the mayor of Constantinople to secretly spray the food sold at the markets with blood from pagan sacrifices. Saint Todor learnt about it and warned the Patriarch and spread the word among Christians, so they avoided breaking the fasting law. This is why the holiday is connected to the beginning of the Lent and moves together with Easter.