Bulgarian ‘dog days’

Traditionally, the start of ‘The Hottest Days’

We’ve endured days of Code Yellow temperatures, then Code Orange and, today Code Red (the most extreme) was declared in 3 Bulgarian regions – Pleven, Ruse and Veliko Tarnovo – with the rest of the country at Orange (only!).

Today was the hottest of the year, with some 30 records being broken. The hottest place was Lovech, at 41.4ºC, one of 8 cities that saw temperatures of 40ºC or more.[1] In Sofia, it was still 36.9ºC at 1800. The current heatwave is forecast to last for another week at least.

Interesting that today’s record temperatures coincide with the first of the three-day period known to Bulgarians as ‘Goreshtnitsi’ (Горещници) – according to tradition, the ‘Hottest Days’ or ‘Dog Days’.

The Hottest Days

The days are related to a number of bans on work in the fields and at home. During the three days, no one goes out in the field to work, or harvests, or threshes, or mows, or washes, or bakes bread, or cooks, or sews because old beliefs warn that fire will come down from the sky to set the sheaves ablaze.

Legend has it that whoever pays no respect to these fiery holidays will end up with his house destroyed by fire.

People also predict the weather for the start of the following year – if it’s hot and sunny in these three days, then the winter days of January and March will be warm, with no snowstorms or blizzards.

According to the legend, if a man washes in hot mineral springs during the Dog Days, he will be healthy in the year to come.

In by-gone times, on the third day of the Goreshtnitsi, called St. Marina of Fire, households should renew the fire in the hearth. The fire in the fireplace is put out and a new one is made in a ritual way – by rubbing two sticks against each other. Housewives take some of the new fire, also called “living fire”, to their home. This ritual is said to symbolise the renewal of life, a fresh new cycle of life.[2]

Orthodox beliefs and others

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church commemorates on 15th, 16th, and 17th. July, the Saintly Martyrs Kirik and Julita, Atinogen and Marina.

There’s a strange link here with Wales. The tiny North Wales town of Capel Curig (Curig’s Chapel) is also associated with the martyrs Kirik and Julita, with the local church known since Norman times as St. Julitta’s.

I only discovered this connection by chance, when my wife asked me as we happened to drive through Capel Curig a few years ago, what the origin of the name might be.

Ironically, too, given the way the Dog days have begun here in Bulgaria this year, Capel Curig is renowned as the wettest place in Wales!

[1]: Focus News Agency

[2]: Plovdiv Guide

[3]: St. Julitta’s Church

Image source: meteoalarm


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One Response to “Bulgarian ‘dog days’”

  1. A singular issue | SoZofia Says:

    […] I went to the Black Sea with my friend Q. We had a lovely time, despite the fact that there were record temperatures and I am now severely […]

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