January 6th is Yordanov Den in Bulgaria and is the day of the traditional blessing of the river by the local priest. He blesses the river and throws in a cross, which the locals then jump into the river to retrieve. The villagers bring rakia (to keep out the cold, of course!) and the mayor served mulled wine to everyone. It was a speedy affair this year and the cross was brought up almost immediately, however the first time we attended this ceremony two years ago, it took two hours to find the cross! After some fruitless searching, they dammed the river, got a digger, pumped out the water...still it was nowhere to be found until the river bed was virtually drained!
We had guests this year and we were all invited to lovely Lilli's house afterwards, where we spent a cosy few hours by the fire eating her delicious mezze with rakia.
It is great to see the traditions being kept alive here in Alino and it brings a great sense of community which we are lucky and grateful to be a part of.