The Horse Easter is a long-awaited holiday, especially by boys and young men. On St. Teodor’s Day in Bulgaria, the traditional kushii are held – the Bulgarian version of horse racing. Hence the second popular name of the holiday, which for centuries in folklore has existed as Horse Easter or St. Teodor’s Day.
Men are starting to prepare for the holiday at sunrise. Before the race, horses go to the drinking pool. When they return, their owners feed them with ritual breads and salt, then clean and comb them. Next is the festive decoration of the horses, in which the boys from the house also take part. Tails and manes are intertwined and decorated with beads (blue to protect them from lessons), tassels of red thread (to protect them from “evil eyes”), bouquets of flowers, geranium and basil as well as different flowers, also – strings of red peppers.
In the past, at some places, before the start of the kushia, the boys went around the village – three times the church, the cemetery, or the village square. Later in the morning, everyone goes out of the village, to a flat place where the kushias/ horse races are performed. The winner of the race receives a gift (the horse – a bag of nice oats and a wreath, or a new bridle, and his master – a shirt or towel). Decorated with wreaths, he makes an honorary tour of the village to congratulate everybody with the Horse Easter/Todorical. He is welcomed everywhere, with blessings, and a maiden or young bride gives to his horse undrinkable water or wine. This is how the winner is welcomed in his home, where he gives a treat for everyone, and the young people dance. Elsewhere, after determining the winner, a big dance takes place, in the center of which are all the horses and riders.
According to popular belief, St. Teodor is also the patron saint of fertility. That is why on this day the young bride (married in the winter or in the last 12 months) kneads dough for the first time and bakes bread in her husband’s house. And if the father-in-law and mother-in-law like him, from then on they address her as “bride” and wait for him to give them an heir. The rituals of presenting the bride are connected with the future birth. With bread and corn, the brides married this year enter the church and from now on they can knead dough, bake and distribute bread, get pregnant and give birth, that is, to be recognized brides and housewives.