Work continues on my research for Charming Lies with some information about the spring holiday that marks the first scene of the book.
Lazarus’ day (Lazarovden) is the Saturday before Easter, and its festivities consist of girls (Lazarki) dressing up and going around the village to sing at each house, where they are rewarded with the eggs that they will later dye for Easter. Traditional foods on their day include dock-and-onion pie (lopushnik), round bread (pitka), fried fish, and fish and dried mushroom soup (according to Bulgarian Holidays and Traditions by Maria Prodanova).
The older girls (the ones who hope to get married during the year) also play a game called the casting of the rings (Napyavane na prastenite) where they each throw a ring into a bowl of water, and someone draws each one out at random, singing about the husband the owner of that ring will find. Here’s part of that song, as it is recorded in the book published by the community center (chetalishte) of the town of Koprivshtitsa. It’s a nice example of the sort of humor one might expect from this ritual, as well as the jobs available in a small town in pre-modern Bulgaria.
Call: Who is happy to Vasil herself betroth? Who is mine? Response: She will be betrothed. (Koya e chestita na Vasil da se godi, Nyago, moe? (Shte se godi!))
Call: On a chair to sit, oil to pack. Who is mine? Response: A cheesemonger! (Na stol da sedi, maslo da krati, Nyago moe? (Mandradzhiya!))
Call: Blood sausage on the shelf. Who is mine? Response: a swineherd! (Karvavitsa na politsa, Nyago moe (Svinar!))
Call: Through the hollows he runs, tightening his sandals. Who is mine? Response: a bandit! (Prez dol byaga, tsarvul styaga, Nyago moe. (Khaidutin!))
Call: A white book, a black letter. Who is mine? Response: a teacher! (Byalo knizhe, cherno pismo, Nyago moe. (Daskal!))
Call: You were sewing your wedding dress, but not finish it. Who is mine? Response: They will not marry you! (Shita riza, ne doshita, Nyago moe. (Shte ya prezhenyat!))
Call: A golden spur on the cobblestones rattles. Who is mine? Response: An officer! (Zlatna kalachka po kaldaram dranka, Nyago moe. (Ofitser!)
Call: A tit knocks at the mill. Who is mine? Response: A miller! (Siniger chuka na vodenitsa, Nyago moe. (Vodenichar!))
Call: Quiet water over stones. Who is mine? Response: A tender man! (Tikha voda pod kamache, Nyago moe. (Krotak mazh!)
So which of my characters is going to marry which, do you think? 😉