These days the city of Sofia is full of colors, flowers and joy, ready for one of the most important holidays of the Christian religion, which is celebrated in many countries of the world, including Bulgaria: the Orthodox Easter.
Orthodox Easter falls on a different date than Catholic Easter, as it follows the Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian one, so this year it falls on Sunday, April 16, 2023.
In this article, we will discover the traditions and celebrations related to Orthodox Easter in Sofia.
Orthodox Easter traditions in Sofia
During the Easter period, the city of Sofia hosts numerous cultural and religious events.
The streets smell of freshly baked kozunak, the typical Bulgarian Easter bread, offered in its variants by the city’s bakeries, identifiable not only by the scent, but by the dozens of people waiting to buy their loaf; the windows of the shops and clubs are enriched with many compositions made from floral decorations, colored eggs, painted or embroidered, and Easter animals. The Easter air is everywhere.
The religious celebration of Orthodox Easter in Sofia begins, however, on Holy Saturday, also known as the Saturday of Light. On this day, churches are decorated with flowers and candles, and bells ring throughout the city. On the night of Holy Saturday, the bells of Sofia’s churches ring in celebration, and people gather to participate in the Easter Vigil, a religious ceremony that culminates with the lighting of the Easter candle and the singing of the Easter hymn “Christ is risen!”. After the Easter Vigil, the faithful return home with their candles lit, symbolizing the light of Christ.
Easter Sunday is the most important day: Orthodox churches are filled with faithful who attend the Easter Mass. During the Mass, baskets of food and painted eggs are blessed and then taken home and shared with family and friends. After the Mass, families gather for a large Easter lunch, which often includes roasted lamb, boiled eggs, traditional bread, the traditional kozunak and rakia, and many other typical Bulgarian dishes. During the lunch, families share painted eggs, breaking them together as a sign of friendship and good luck.
Finally, during Orthodox Easter, it is common to visit cemeteries to honor the loved ones.
The faithful bring flowers and candles to their loved ones and pray for them.
5 things to do in Sofia during the Easter period:
During the Easter period, there are many things to do and see in Sofia. Here are 5 suggestions:
1. Visit Orthodox churches – During Orthodox Easter, Sofia’s churches come alive with processions and rituals. You can participate in the Easter Vigil and Easter Masses, or visit churches to admire the icons and magnificence of the buildings. A visit to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world, isdefinitely worth it.
2. Discover culinary traditions – Orthodox Easter is an occasion to taste traditional Bulgarian dishes such as roasted lamb, Easter bread and painted eggs. You could try these specialties in the city’s restaurants or buy local products at markets.
3.Attend Easter processions – During Easter week, many churches in Sofia organize processions through the city’s streets, where Orthodox devoted carry crosses, icons, and symbols of faith. The processions can be very large and involve different churches. These spectacular events are a way for the faithful to celebrate the resurrection of Christ and also offer the opportunity to discover local traditions.
4. Visit museums – Orthodox Easter is also an ideal time to visit Sofia’s museums, many of which host exhibitions that illustrate the history of the Orthodox religion in Bulgaria. Among the most interesting museums are the National Museum of History and the National Museum of Ecclesiastical Art.
5. Take part in cultural activities – During the Easter period, Sofia offers numerous cultural activities such as concerts, theater performances and art exhibitions. You can give a look at the program of events in the city to discover what activities are taking place during your stay. Among the various websites, we recommend consulting the official website of the Sofia Municipality, which provides detailed information about the events and activities organized in the city.
Easter in Sofia
Orthodox Easter is a very important holiday in Bulgaria and is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Sofia. All these traditions are a ta proof of the strong culture and faith of Orthodox Bulgarians.
Students and teachers present in our agency in Sofia, ETN Business Lab, have the chance to discover local traditions and culture, participate in religious and cultural activities, and taste the typical Bulgarian food classics