Eniovden (Еньовден) is an old Bulgarian holiday, celebrated annually on June 24. It is believed that its roots lie in the Thracian tradition. However, the traditions and rituals of the Christian holiday St. John’s Day, which is on the same date, often mingle with Eniovden.
Since the the holiday is on midsummer a lot of the traditions and rituals are related to the cult of the sun, typical for the Thracians. But Eniovden is also a Bulgarian name day. Everyone bearing a name such as Enio, Jana, Janka, Janko, Janitsa, Janik, Janislav, John, Joan, Diane, Dylian, etc., as well as the ones named after herbs, celebrate their name on this day.
According to Bulgarian folklore, the beginning of winter starts on Eniovden. It was believed that when the sun rises that day it trembles and dances and whoever sees it is going to be healthy during the coming year. At sunrise, people turn facing the sun, watching their shadows over their shoulders. If the shadow is whole, the person will be healthy, if it is halved – he will be sick that year.
It is not allowed to work on the fields or wash clothes on the day of the holiday. The people believed that St. Enio will kill with lightnings the person who disregards his holiday. And if someone washes clothes on this day a family member will become ill.
It was also believed that before the sun starts the long way towards winter, it stops to rest. It rises very early to say “goodbye” to the world it will not see for so long and bathes in the waters on Earth, making them healing. When it drains itself, the water that falls off becomes dew. This dew has a special magical power and therefore, for good health, everyone baths at Eniovden’s morning and then rubs in the dew.
It is considered that the herbs have the most healing power on Eniovden, especially if gathered at sunrise. The herbs stored for winter have to be exactly “77 and a half”, for each disease and for the nameless illness.
During the day of the holiday the maidens from the village gather together and prepare the Eniova Bulia (Enio’s Bride). They take a 5 year old girl and dress her with white gown and red jacket, a red veil and a crown of eniovche (galium plant) with a silver coin. Then they take the girl and parade it trough the village, fields and water springs, while singing holiday songs. This ritual’s purpose is to ask St. Enio for health for the people and fertility for the land.
At sunset people gather “silent water” for healing and divination. In complete silence, so they don’t destroy its magic power, they take the water from a clear, sweet spring. The water is then used to foretell about health, marriage and fertility.