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St. Sava (Savineden) - Feast of the Guardian Spirit of the Home, Fertility, and Female Power


България от началото на XX век. Сцена от селския живот Автор: неизвестен. Архив на Британската библиотека

On December 5, the Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of Saint Sabas the Sanctified, a monk from the Cappadocian region who lived in the 6th century. He was a monk without possessions, a spiritual teacher of Christians in meekness, humility, trust in God, and self-denial.


In folk tradition, this day is associated with the veneration of the patron spirit, fertility, and female power. In folk beliefs, each home and family has its own patron spirit, which usually takes the form of a dragon. On the feast of Saint Sabas, this spirit is honored by frying donuts and distributing them to relatives and neighbors, with wishes for well-being and good luck. For health and fertility, women also distribute pies. On the holiday, folk memory tells of a ritual for a successful marriage of a girl in the family. Before sunrise, the girl must sift the flour for the pie through an upside-down sieve. During sifting, an older woman is present, with whom the girl leads a ritual dialogue, calling for the successful marriage of the girl.

In folk beliefs, Saint Sabas is the brother of Saint Barbara and Saint Nicholas. He is the better of the two, always following Barbara and asking her not to release ice grains from her sleeve onto the fields. The two prepare for the feast of Saint Nicholas, so it is said: "Barbara boils, Sabas bakes (kneads), Nicholas entertains guests."

In terms of ritual, the holiday repeats that of Barbara. Folk traditions on this day are associated with protection from diseases and, at the same time, with fertility and protection of fertility. The rituals of the holiday can be defined as preparation for the next economic and social cycle, for health and well-being, and for protection from evil forces.

On December 5, all those who bear the name Sabas, Sabaka, Svetoslav, Svetoslava, Slavcho, Slavi, Subi, Slavyan, and Slavyana celebrate their name day.

We wish all those celebrating their name day today, good health, happiness, and well-being!

Photography: Bulgaria from the early 20th century. A scene from rural life Author: Unknown. British Library Archive

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