BlogEniovden – More Than Your Usual Summer Solstice Celebration

June 14, 2020by Bulgarian Steps0еnyovden.jpg

In Bulgaria, Eniovden is celebrated on the 24th of June. This coincides with the Orthodox holiday, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, as well as the Summer Solstice (or Midsummer, as it is more commonly referred to in the west).

Hello everyone and welcome back to our blog. In today’s blog, we’ll cover one of Bulgaria’s most beautiful summer celebrations – Eniovden. A day, dedicated to feats, dancing and bonfires, Eniovden is also a features a rather significant “name day” celebration, as there are a lot of names associated with the holiday.

Eniovden Celebration

In Bulgaria, Eniovden is celebrated on the 24th of June. This coincides with the Orthodox holiday, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, as well as the Summer Solstice (or Midsummer, as it is more commonly referred to in the west). Despite Bulgaria’s Christian identity, however, the celebrations are largely Pagan in nature – Eniovden is dedicated to fertility festivals, feasts, dancing around, and jumping over bonfires, fortune-telling, herb-picking and ritual bathing. 

Eniovden Beliefs 

According to tradition, Enivoden marks the “distant beginnings of winter” right there, on Midsummer’s Day. In some areas, people say that it is when “Enio (or Enyo, depending on who you’re talking to) is putting on his winter coat to go looking for snow”. It is believed that on the morning of the holiday, as the Sun rises, it “flickers” playfully, and gets to witness its ascent will be healthy throughout the year. Immediately at sunrise, everyone should face the Sun and keep an eye on their shadow. If they’re casting a full shadow, then they’re up for a full twelve months’ worth of good health. If their shadow only goes halfway, however, they’re not going to have the best of years. It is also believed that before “starting its journey towards winter”, the Sun “bathes” in the rivers and pods, giving the water magical healing properties. Afterwards, it “shakes off” the excess water, creating magical dew. Therefore, everyone should aim to bathe in running water or at least rub some dew across their forearms and forehead “for good health”.  The first maiden who gets to lay eyes on the Sun on that morning will also get to enjoy an entire year of exceptional health, good fortune and wealth. Being a fertility ritual in its core, the night before Eniovden is also believed to be exceptionally fitting for “luring” or “stealing” fertility from the fields and animals. This ritual is also performed on St. George’s day. On the festive day, harvesting is traditionally forbidden. It is said that working the fields on Midsummer’s Day will attract the wrath of Enio and he is likely to send thunderstorms to the fields of anyone who dares disrespect him. All herbs, along with their various folklore-attributed mystical properties are said to be twice as effective, and all fortune tellers, shamans and medicine women aim to collect (and respectively – sell) their most potent ingredients during that time. 

The History and Origins of Eniovden

As most other Bulgarian and Eastern European celebrations, Eniovden was initially a Pagan holiday.  The origins of Eniovden can be traced back to “Kupala night” – a Slavic ritual, held in honour of the Sun deity Kupala. Sometimes depicted as masculine and other times – as a feminine deity, Kupala would represent might, fertility, joy and wisdom. Eventually, Kupala was Christianised and merged into the celebrations, surrounding “St. John the Baptist”. The name change, however, did little to dissuade the population from preserving most of the rites and rituals surrounding the summer solstice celebration, hence the bonfires, flower wreaths and variety of region-specific fertility celebrations.  And would you look at that – we’ve reached the end of today’s post! We hope that you liked our piece and that we’ve managed to shed some light on this particular custom. As always, we’d also like to remind you that we are not an “absolute authority” on the matters of Bulgarian Folklore, and there are certain things that we might’ve missed. And, consider that most of the information and traditions were preserved for generation solely thanks to word-of-mouth, it’s almost impossible to completely reconstruct the entire history of these rituals. Even with the help of the Internet, with its vast archives of historical information and various credible articles by researchers, putting the pieces together is quite the challenge.  If you happen to know some exciting things about Eniovden, or Bulgarian history and culture in general, please do not hesitate to share them in the comments below, or to send us an email at! We absolutely love hearing from you, and we’d be delighted to include your knowledge or experiences in our future posts!  Thank you all for reading, and we’ll see you next time! © Bulgarian Steps

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