New Year’s Day is a holiday in Bulgaria as part of celebrations that start on New Year’s Eve and reach a high point with the turning of the clock from 11:59pm on 31 December to midnight on 1 January.
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New Year’s Day is a time of resolutions and starting fresh for some, while for others it is spent recovering from a big, late night spent with friends and family.
In Bulgaria, New Year’s traditions are, if anything, quite unique. Feasting on roast turkey, rooster, pork and cabbage, and an assortment of fruits and vegetables with friends and family is normal enough. And you may even see some fireworks.
But one of the big centres of attention on New Year’s Eve is cooking and eating the banitsa. Banitsa is a layered, eggy, cheesy pastry with multiple ultra-thin layers of dough. It is baked in the oven with coins, slips of paper with fortunes written on them, or various other good luck charms inside.
Traditionally, Some families would also bake a dogwood tree branch into it. If you get the dogwood in your piece of banitsa, then you throw it in the fire to see if it pops, which would mean good health and prosperity for the year ahead!
On New Year’s Day, the ritual of survakane is traditional. It involves kids going door to door and lightly “beating” people with a decorative survachka stick while reciting poems meant to bring blessings and good luck. The homeowner is then expected to give out sweets and small sums of money in return for this treatment.