The Gipsy New Year

Gipsies celebrate the coming of the New Year on 14 January. In the Gipsy neighbourhood of Oriahovo, Bango Vasil – the patron saint and defender of Gipsies - was traditionally honoured on this date. On that nice sunny day a festive crowd assembled in front of the club to be greeted by the attendants of different clubs for extracurricular activities at the Municipal Children’s Complex.
The celebration was also attended by the Mayor of the Municipality, Mr. Rossen Dobrev, the Secretary of the Municipality, Ms. Hristinka Tsoneva, and Ms. Anelia Angelova, Chief Specialist at the Dept. of Culture, Sport and Tourism. Mr. Dobrev greeted the assembly saying there was no ethnic division in Oriahovo and all its inhabitants were together on work days and holidays.
The celebration of Vasilitsa is related to several Gipsy legends. In some of them Bango Vasiliy is the patron defender of Gipsies. He restores the bridge destroyed by the Devil, so that Gipsies could pass across. In other legends Bango Vasiliy is a lame shepherd, who saves a drowning Gipsy child or gives shelter to a Gipsy running away from his enemies.
According to another legend, St. Vasiliy saves the Gipsy kin from drowning in the rough sea. The deep water was about to devour the Gipsies but the white-haired saint sent a flock of geese to them. The Gipsies mounted them and reached safe the opposite shore. Since then they have been honouring their saviour on 14th January and have named the holiday after him – Vasilitsa.
Bango Vasiliy is a family holiday which is celebrated with poultry on the table – goose or rooster. In all Gipsy groups the dinner on the night of 13 before 14 January is full of rich symbolics. There are cabbage rolls (sarmi), banitsa (cheese pie) with lucks, flat bread, wine, rakia, fruits. Incense is burnt over the table and it is blessed, after which everybody asks everybody else for forgiveness and they kiss each other’s hands.
All houses in which Bango Vasiliy is celebrated remain locked until midnight on 13 January lest luck might run away.
 Here are some photos from the celebration: