(Tryphonos Trimmer's Day)
Saint Tryphon is worshipped as the guardian of vineyards and this festival is in his honour. It is observed not only by vine-growers, but also by market-gardeners and tavern-keepers. Early in the morning the mistress of the house kneads some bread - unleavened or leavened. She also cooks a barnyard hen, which - following the tradition - is stuffed with rice or grouts. The hen is stewed in one piece and then roasted on a sachak (a kind of shallow copper pan). The loaf of bread, the hen and a wooden vessel (buklitza) full of wine are put in a new woollen bag. With such bags over their shoulders the men go to the vineyards. They make the sign of the cross, take the pruning-knives and cut, each one of them, three sticks from three main stems. Afterwards they make the sign of the cross again and pour the wine they have brought over the vines. This ritual is called 'trimming'. Following this ceremony, they single out 'the king of vineyards'. Only then the general feast begins. 'The king' is crowned with a wreath of vine sticks and decorated by another garland - across his shoulders. He is seated on a cart. The vine-growers draw the cart and, accompanied by the sounds of bagpipes, rebecks and a drum, make their way to the village or town. When arriving there, they stop in front of each house. The respective hostess brings out wine in a white caldron, offers it first to the king to drink and then treats the people of his suite. The wine left in the caldron is thrown over the king, pronouncing at the same time a blessing: "May we have a good harvest! May it overflow thresholds!" The king answers this blessing with: "Amen". When arriving at his own house, the king changes his clothes and, still wearing the wreaths on his head and over his shoulders, sits at a long table to meet people from the whole village. That is why, as a rule, a well-to-do man is chosen to be the king of this festival. The following two days, known as 'trifuntsi' in the folklore, are venerated for protection from wolves. Women do not cut with scissors in order to prevent wolves' mouths from opening, do not knit, do not sew. They make a ritual bread and after serving it to their neighbours, they put morsels of it in the fodder they give to the animals - to protect both cattle and people from wolves.
As for the feast table, on the day of Tryphon Zarezan it should be prepared with the housewife's special attention. As early as the grey of morning she gets up in order to make an unleavened loaf of bread. For this purpose only a kilo of flour and one spoonful of salt are needed. The flour is sifted - to have only the finest and purest of it. Then it should be evenly salted and kneaded into dough by adding two tea cupfuls of lukewarm water. The dough is kneaded until bubbles begin to show up in it. Then a loaf is shaped and baked in a previously heated oven. When the bread gets ready, cover it with a cotton cloth to prevent its crust from drying.
By old Bulgarian custom, we suggest that you cook a stuffed hen as a main course.
STUFFED HEN Ingredients:
- a hen
- 3 coffee-cupfuls of grouts
- 1 coffee-cupful of vegetable oil
- half a head of pickIed cabbage /sauerkraut/ (or fresh cabbage)
- 10 corns of pepper
- 2 teaspoonfuls of red pepper
- 1 teaspoonful of ground dry savouryPreparation:
First prepare the filling - pour boiling water over the grouts and add half of the sauerkraut, thinly cut. Then add the oil and 2 coffee-cupfuls of warm water and stew the sauerkraut in a covered pot on a slow fire. Season it with the savoury, the pepper and the red pepper.
Stuff the poultry with this filling and sow it up with a scalded white thread. Lay the rest of the sauerkraut, also thinly cut, on the bottom of the pot you are going to cook in, and put the poultry on top.
Pour water and sauerkraut juice in equal proportions, to cover 2/3 of the poultry's height with the liquid. (If you have no sauerkraut juice available, pour only water.) Before putting the lid of the pot, cover it with white paper.
Stew on slow fire until the meat gets tender. Serve this dish with a salad of roasted or pickled peppers. You can also garnish it with pickled cucumbers or stewed carrots.
On the Tryphon Zarezan festive day, in addition to the home-baked bread and the stuffed poultry, you can also serve baked kernels - walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, or dried fruit. It is useful to know that the nuts may be served candied. To this purpose you can put a little sugar on them and then bake them in an oven at a moderate temperature. The dried fruits are served powder sugared and sprinkled with rum.
Wine is a must on this holiday. In winter and on cold days, red wine is recommended, and on warm summer days - wine is white. Red wine is served at room temperature. As a rule, in small towns and in villages it is kept in cellars or basements. It is appropriate, therefore, to bring it out a short while before your guests arrive and everybody sits at the table. "The drink of Gods" is served with the main course, but it is also possible to offer it with the sweet course. It is believed that the wine to be produced by the vines in the respective year would be as good as the wine served at the Tryphon Zarezan's table. It is therefore advisable to treat your guests to your best wine - you will know it by the "chain" formed in the upper part of the glass, when the wine is poured from the bottle.
On the next day it is good to serve some lighter food, because the Tryphon Zarezan festival is known for its abundant fare. Suitable are baked potatoes served with butter and white cheese, omelettes or scrambled eggs, pickled or boiled vegetables. Fruit juices or syrups from compotes or bottled fruit are very suitable to sober down the men who had drunk too much the day before. They make them feel better and clear up their minds.
Several more festivals follow Tryphon Zarezan - Vlasovden (St. Vlas' Day), 11 February - a day for protecting the good health of draught oxen, cows and sheep, then comes Mesni Zagovezni, the second Sunday before Lent, Sirni Zagovezni, the first Sunday before Lent - festivals which are mobile, and Easter - a holiday we are paying a special attention.
These several holidays are followed by hard work in the fields and people rarely have time to gather with their friends and neighbours at the table. That is why during the winter period all big festivals are celebrated in the presence of a large number of guests, and it is a real pleasure for the hostess to prepare the meals. You, too, can plunge in this atmosphere of the Bulgarian folklore and then you will feel the unity of folk spirit and traditions that have persisted till the present day.
1. Grozeva, Vera. Orthodox Traditions and Old-Time Bulgarian Beliefs. Ivan Vazov Publishing House, Sofia, 1997. /In Bulgarian./
2. Mantov, Dimiter. Folk Dishes from St. Dimitri's to St. George's Day. Svetulka 44 Publishing House, Sofia, 1997.
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