You are currently browsing the daily archive for April 2, 2010.


I’m very homesick right now! My family and my aunt’s family are going to our villa in the quaint village of Kapatovo in the Melnik region for the Easter weekend. The garden must be covered in blue spring flowers. The sun will be warm and the breeze will be cool. Spring is the loveliest season  there!

Although the Orthodox tradition calls for red eggs, we decorate them in every way possible!

According to the tradition, my mother and my aunt will paint the eggs on Saturday. We prepare hard boiled eggs and color them in special paints. We make them red, green, blue, orange, and yellow. We use cotton to make the colors gradate. We also use candle wax to draw on the hot eggs and make beautiful imprints. We paint the outlines of leaves with different shapes on the eggs.

On Sunday, everyone will be “dueling” with the eggs:  One person holds the egg with the sharp end down and hits the other person’s egg, which is with the blunt end up. The egg whose shell breaks loses and is eaten. The egg that wins continues to duel other eggs. In the end, there is one champion egg. (When we were kids, my brother and I once found a duck egg, which was bigger and stronger than any chicken’s egg, so we became the ultimate champions!)

In the Orthodox tradition, the red eggs symbolize Christ’s blood. One red egg has to be put aside and kept for the whole year. During the following Easter, the family would open the egg. If it is rotten, the year’s harvest will be poor. But if the egg is still good (and it usually is!), the year will be good, and the house will be full of happiness and prosperity.

Making the kozunak requires a lot of time and effort. My granmother prepares it with raisins and lokum!

The feast in Kapatovo on Sunday will be delicious: All morning, my mother and aunt will be roasting the lamb. My grandmother will prepare rice with pieces of liver. She will also make the salad: green salad with lettuce, cucumbers, green onions, radishes in thin slices and slices of hardboiled eggs on top, and she will crush the lettuce, which always makes it soft and releases its juice. The green salad is very important: it symbolizes spring and the first fresh vegetables and fruit that have been harvested this year.  Finally, my grandmother will make the kozunak: the traditional Easter sweet bread with walnuts, raisins, marmalade, and lokum.

My father will pour our family wine in everyone’s glasses and all will be merry!

I wish I could be with all of you! I love you and have a wonderful Easter!


Today is the 205th birthday of Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish master of fairy tales and author of my most favorite children’s story, The Little Mermaid. Among his other works, which have kindled the imagination of children all over the world, are Thumbelina, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Match Girl, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Princes and the Pea, The Snow Queen, and The Wild Swans.

Andersen’s anniversary and the beginning of spring are a good occasion to tell you more about my favorite Bulgarian folk tale.

As a child, I thought that the two most enchanting mythological creatures of all were Andersen’s mermaids and the Bulgarian samodivi.

In the Slavic tradition, the samodivi are forest spirits that take the form of beautiful young women. They are forever young, with long fair hair, long white robes, and bewitching eyes that can sweep a man off their feet and even kill him. All samodivi are sisters.  During nights in the spring, when the moon rises, they get together in open glades deep in the forests of Rila and Pirin mountain and dance the horo barefooted. Nothing is more beautiful than the song and dance of a samodiva.

The samodivi are in fact invisible. Only exceptional people can see them: those who were born on Christmas Eve or in the Saturday before the Bulgarian Orthodox Easter.

Nothing is more beautiful than a Bulgarian samodiva, or more dangerous

Sometimes a samodiva would kidnap a young shepherd and make him play his kaval (a wooden flute) while her sisters dance the horo. She might kill him, but if he does her a favor, she might also become “his sister”: become his protector and even give birth to his child. One of our greatest legendary heroes, Krali Marko (King Marko) was nursed by one samodiva and had another one as a sister-protector.

Thus the samodivi, like the mermaids, are beautiful but treacherous. They take merciless revenge on any man who wrongs them or on any woman they envy and send them a deadly disease.

A samodiva is in the human world from early spring (March 25th) to the late summer (August 29th). She spends the cold months in the secret village Zmeikovo together with the zmeiove (zmei – a Slavic dragon), rusalki (rusalka – a Slavic mermaid), and vili (vila or samovila – another Slavic female forest spirit).

Listen to Samodiva by Balkandji. Their music is “metal with folk motives.” The lyrics speak of a  “wild” samodiva who goes out at night when the forest is dark and men start singing songs. She is beautiful but the look of her eyes is as poisonous as a snake.

Enter your email address to subscribe to Zikata's blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 74 other followers

Follow me on Twitter!

Share this Blog

Share |
April 2010
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Read it? Rate it!

RSS Getting curious:

Your Green Eyes

Ad