24 June – Enyovden (Enyov’s Day)

Enyovden is a festival connected with the summer solstice.

On Midsummer Day the sun is believed to end its journey towards summer and, after giving three jumps it turns towards winter. There was a popular belief that the herbs gathered on the eve of Enyovden have stronger healing powers than those gathered on any other day of the year, so female herbalists and sorcerers roamed the woods and meadows that night to collect herbs. According to the tradition, on Enyovden children and adults roll in dewy fields and have a bath in rivers and brooks in the woods. The women twine flowers and herbs into a wreath and everybody passes through it three times as a ritual for health and fertility.

It was also believed that the diseases in the world were seventy-seven and a half, and that there were cures for all 77 of them, but no cure for the remaining one half. Collecting the herbs known to them, the women would close their eyes and gropingly pick some spray which would be used throughout the year to hopefully cure the incurable disease. The so-called wheat-thieving sorcerers also came out on Midsummer’s Eve to take away the fertility from other people’s fields and carry it into their own, or to steal a village’s fertility and plant it into another. A robbed field would be recognized by its long but empty ears. A sorcerer’s field would naturally be full-eared.

Etura – the only Open Air Ethnographic Museum on the Balkan Peninsula, situated in a beautiful setting on both banks of the Sivek River, 8 km from Gabrovo – is a place where Enyovden is specially celebrated. Here, on Enyovden, everyone can take their chance of wriggling through an aromatic herb garland for health, and learn more about the medicinal powers of plants. Friendly and smiling hosts will welcome you with coffee and a special jam, with hot homemade bread – Parlenka, and a lollipop. Walking down the cobbled street, looking at the stone roofs and the terraces packed with flowers, you will most certainly travel through time and visit mediaeval Bulgaria.

European peoples have similar beliefs connected with the summer solstice, though the belief that fertility can be stolen on this day is typically Slavic. The so-called ringing is another custom observed on Enyovden.