On the streets of Sofia people are having coffee soaking up on the sun. I find myself on Boulevard Vitosha and along the road is the Sveta Nedelya church. Flocks of Bulgarians from all walks of life are there for Good Friday. I was actually surprised about this, because I knew that normally Good Friday is celebrated on a different date in the Eastern Church. Having checked the Internet, it turns out that they can fall on the same day.
Inside the church people line up to receive leaves from the “priest”, then they kiss the Bible and a cross on top of a table. After that, they crawl under that table, rise up and light a candle around certain areas of the church. A while ago I was actually wondering about the aim of that tradition; it turns out that the table is a representation of the coffin of Christ, going under and rising up is meant to cleanse you from sin.
As they make their way out of the church, a few of them would kiss images of Saints along the halls of the church. A Bulgarian chap told me the tradition has pagan origins.
An hour after that I went to a coffee house just outside of Rotunda church. I asked the waitress if they had pastries, and she said not on this day… Did she meant that normally they serve food but that Good Friday was an exception?
I couldn’t really have clear answers from her because of the language barrier. For example, I asked her about what was going on inside the churches: “Today is happy day in Bulgaria”… She could have meant Holliday or it could have been literal translation of “Great Friday” in English.