BTA News

Humans and Horses Mark St Theodore’s Day Countrywide

St Theodore’s Day, popularly known as Horse Easter, was marked countrywide on Saturday. The feast falls on the first Saturday of Lent and commemorates the 4th c. Holy Great Martyr Theodore the Tyro (Recruit). In Bulgarian iconography, the saint is depicted riding a white horse.

Horse Easter celebrates the health of horses and young brides, newly wed during the winter. On this day women bake ritual buns in the shape of a horse or a horseshoe. With pieces of them they feed the horses and the young brides for health and fertility. In some villages, when the mother-in-law gives the piece of bun, the young bride kicks and neighs so that the young horses that will be born are healthy and agile.

The culmination of the holiday is a horse race called kushia. Any horse and rider may enter the competition. The winners get prizes: a rein for the horse and a shirt for the rider, and then call on in each house of the village to celebrate the holiday.

The Mounted Police Unit at the Metropolitan Directorate of Interior paraded eleven horses (three white and eight brown) at an event marking St Theodore’s Day in Sofia’s Benkovski Quarter.

The Director of the Metropolitan Directorate, Chief Commissioner Lyubomir Nikolov, said that police use horses mainly to keep the peace in the city centre. The number of the animals varies, but enough are available to handle their task, Nikolov said.

Later in the day, horse races were staged at the Benkovski Stadium.

The occasion was marked across the country with church services, horse processions and parades, flat races and jumping competitions organized by riding clubs, cart racing and folk concerts.