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NIKULDEN (St. Nicholas the Wonderworker)

NIKULDEN (St. Nicholas the Wonderworker)

12/6/2017 8:00:00 AM

Name day for everyone named Nikola, Nikolay, Kolyo, Nikolina, Neno, Nenka, Nikolina, Nina.















Ritual dishes for the day: "ribnik"*, rite bread; meatless dishes such as corn, boiled wheat, stuffed cabbage leaves, peppers and beans are served on the table.















* The "ribnik" " a carp in dough is a traditional dish for the holiday. The "ribnik" is baked in an oven together with the rite bread " two loafs of bread for each house. The "ribnik" and the bread are sanctified in the church or at home, and small pieces of them are given out to the neighbors. The bigger part of the "ribnik" and thebread is kept and consumed at home during the family dinner. The table of Nikulden is not supposed to be cleaned up but should left during the whole day to the disposal of all guests who come to the house.















Nikulden is an important winter holiday celebrated by all Bulgarians on December 6th. According to the Christian myth for the division of the world, St. Nicholas was given the seas, rivers and lakes. He is the master of the whole underwater world " the fish and water demons, as well as the sea winds. According to the legends, St. Nicholas can rage and stop the sea winds, can walk on the seas and if there is a ship in danger, he will rescue it. The saint is a patron of the sailors and fishermen. That feastday honors the sea element, the seas, the rivers and lakes. A fish, usually a carp, which is considered to be the servant to the Saint, is sacrificed for the feastday.















The bones of the Nikulden carp should not be thrown away but rather burned, buried in the ground or dropped in the river, as it is believed that this way the fertility and family well-being will be preserved. The elderly women take the cross-shaped bone from the head of the fish and sew it within the clothes of their grandchildren, so that kids are protected from the evil.















The true greatness of this beloved Saint is hidden in the shadows of a legend, obscuring the identity of one of the most endearing of our saints. Nothing is known of the early life of Nicholas, except that he was born at the turn of the fourth century, during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian, in Asia Minor and was a Bishop of Myra, in that area which is now Turkey.















Of a quiet and and studious nature, he attended the Synod of Nicaea in A.D. 325. On that momentous occasion he was so withdrawn that he is not even mentioned in the account of the proceedings recorded by St. Athanasios the Great; however, his behind the scenes activity did add to the luster of this memorable convocation. His importance was recognised by the Emperor Justinian, who had a magnificent cathedral erected in his memory in Constantinople.















Prior to his elevation as Archbishop, Nicholas had suffered imprisonment, harsh treatment and torture at the hands of the enemies of the Church. It was not until the reign of the Christian Emperor Constantine that he was able to lead the normal and peaceful life of a prelate. His leadership in Myra, which did not offer very hospitable surroundings for the Christians of the day, was so effective that his fame and popularity gave rise to many legends that were well intended but served only to screen the true character of this very real and industrious saint who laboured for Christ all the years of his life, echoing the truth of Christianity uttered centuries before by the apostles.















So great was St. Nicholas' popularity that he became the symbol of protection of children, which led to many of the legends about him. After his death by natural causes at a venerable age, the legends and myths multiplied, but they only demonstrate how dearly loved he was for his great work. He became not only the patron saint of children, but also of merchants, sailors, and scholars, and was a protective symbol for travellers against highwaymen.















In a fascinating and daring enterprise in the late eleventh century, the residents of Bari, Italy, where Nicholas' popularity had grown with the years, hatched a plot to recover the remains of the saint from Turkey. Through guile and ruse they were able to outwit the unwary but dangerous natives of Asia Minor, and succeeded in removing the body of Saint Nicholas and transporting it to Bari. There it was paraded in triumph through the streets before being properly enshrined on 9 May 1087, after which a magnificent basilica was erected in his honour.

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The Day of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker is also the feastday of bankers and traders. They celebrate their professional day each year on December 6th. Congratulations to all of them!

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