Saint George the Dragon Slayer
So, St George, before becoming the Victorious, was a Greek, an officer in the Roman army. The legend of St George and the Dragon immortalizes him, and he is regarded as one of the most prominent military saints. The legend tells a dragon made its nest at the spring from where the whole village of Silene (Cyrene in Libya or Lydda in Holy Land) was getting their water. Poor people living in the village had no choice but to come up with various ways to propitiate the dragon. At first they started offering him a sheep every day but it was not long until this was not enough and they started giving him a maiden. One day the princess had to go, as the victim was chosen by drawing lots. Just before the dragon eats her St George appears and he slays the dragon, protecting himself with the sign of the Cross. All the people convert to Christianity. Customs for St George`s Day in Bulgaria are quite curious. On the night before the feast day people from the village must go out on the meadows and roll in the grass, as the dew is believed to have healing capabilities. They pray for rain as the legend says on St George`s Day every drop of it brings fruitfulness. After rolling in the dew on the way back people gather greens – oak, geranium, and nettle – to decorate the doors of their homes, the sheds, the domestic animals themselves. Another custom for staying healthy throughout the year is by putting up scales on green trees and weighting on them. And to keep the soil healthy the master of the house must take the first red egg, dyed on Great Thursday, and to bury it in the middle of the field.
As St George is considered also the mightiest patron of the herds, many customs on the feast day are to ensure the well-being of the livestock. Early in the morning the herd is taken out, with a green stick. The head of the sheep that goes our first is decorated with a green wreath; she is then milked and the first few drops are spilled on the ground or on a red egg, which is after buried. Every household must slay a lamb on St George`s Day to prove their Christian faith. The animal, offered as a sacrifice, is chosen by different criteria in the different regions – it might be the first born this year, the first male, or the lamb of the sheep that went out of the shed first. Here is a tip on how to choose your lamb for this year`s holiday treat: take advantage of farm Perun`s offer. This way you will be enjoying the most delicious fresh meat and in the same time supporting the farm`s mission of preserving endangered Bulgarian domestic breeds: http://www.farmhopping.com/en/farms/view/2/
Stay tuned for more St George`s Day customs, on Wednesday the post is about how people around the world celebrate it.