The men of this small town on the southern slopes of the Stara Planina are known for many acts of bravery, but what they do on Orthodox Epiphany has to be seen in person to be appreciated fully.
Early in the morning of 6 January, they put on traditional costumes and head to the Tundzha River.
Temperatures are usually sub-zero Centigrade by many degrees, so in all probability a bit of red wine or a sip of the local rakiya may have been needed the night before. To the music of bagpipes and the drums, the male congregation goes into the river. The local priest then throws a cross into its icy waters and the men struggle to find it. Then they form a horo and dance.
Under Communism, the tradition was banned as it was explicitly religious, but people revived it in the 1990s. Today, the Epiphany male horo attracts hundreds of visitors and is a major wintertime Bulgarian attraction.
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