Galina Stoyanova, Mayor of Kazanlak Municipality: Retrieving the cross on Epiphany Day is not just a ritual, it is a symbol of Bulgarian bravery6 January 2017 | 14:55 | Radio FOCUS
FOCUS: Today’s Epiphany Day will be marked in Kazanlak with a mixed ritual of sanctification of the battle flag of the 61th Stryamska Brigade, and the traditional retrieving of the Epiphany cross from the cold waters of the Old River. We are speaking with Galina Stoyanova, the city’s mayor.
Galina Stoyanova: I wish all the best to everyone celebrating the holiday, and to the team of Radio FOCUS.
FOCUS: Thank you Ms Stoyanova. Before talking about the big holiday, I cannot help but ask you how Kazanlak woke up this morning, what is the situation regarding the snowfall, are there any problems?
Galina Stoyanova: Currently the situation is normal, all roads were cleaned on the territory of Kazanlak Municipality and the surrounding road network. The transport system is operating on schedule. Only the Hadzhidimitrovo - Sheynovo - Yasenovo road is closed due to the strong winds and snowfall. The situation is fine, the roads are cleaned, and cleaning of the second-class streets is currently finishing.
FOCUS: Let us hope there are no problems today and the following days. Now, on to the holiday, after we know the situation is normal. At 9:00, the liturgy will start. What will the programme involve today in Kazanlak?
Galina Stoyanova: After the liturgy takes place in Kazanlak’s temples, this year we have moved the ritual to 13:00, at the Old Lake, as per tradition in Kazanlak, because this year we will connect the ritual together with the 61st Stryamska Mechanised Brigade. Brigade General Plamen Yordanov will be together with the military, the military orchestra for the sanctification of the flags first. Afterwards, as per tradition, the priests will throw the cross in the river. We expect many young people to come. This year, like last year, we have made preparations to welcome the people who will jump in the river, the brave people of Kazanlak, so that they can retrieve the Kazanlak cross, in name of the good health of the entire city and entire municipality.
FOCUS: How important it is, Ms Stoyanova, for this connection between the big Christian holiday and honouring the military? What is the significance and role of this relationship?
Galina Stoyanova: For the first time in Kazanlak, we are performing these two rituals together. As the brigade is located on the territory of Karlovo Municipality, so far the ritual has been performed there. This year, the brigade’s general organised it so we can perform both rituals in Kazanlak. For us, this is really very important to happen together, and to become tradition, because the respect of battle flags, of the battle fame of Bulgaria must be conveyed among the young people, and they should know that the retrieving of the cross is not just a church ritual, it is not just a tradition. It is related to Bulgarians’ kindness, with their desire to always come on top. So for the young people, for the older ones, and for all citizens of Kazanlak, the ritual this time will be very special and, of course, very festive, thanks to the brigade.
FOCUS: There is one other holiday coming this Sunday. You will mark 139 years since Kazanlak’s liberation, and the battles at Shipka and Sheynovo. How will this anniversary be marked? What is the citizens’ attitude towards the history, the memory?
Galina Stoyanova: Every year, on 8th and 9th January, as per tradition, we mark the Kazanlak Liberation, and the battles at Shipka and Sheynovo. This year the ritual will again take place firstly on 8th at the monastery in Kazanlak, and this year the new bishop at the monastery will be holding it. There will be a ritual on flower tributes, a story on history, which is incredibly heavy and very, very educational on how Kazanlak was defended, and how much the freedom cost for Bulgaria and our region. Sheynovo and Shipka always, at any time welcome us with a lot of honour and respect, but this year, because of the weather and the winds we are expecting there, the ritual will indeed be a bit more special. We have never cancelled it, and we will not do so now. We will be at Shipka and Sheynovo as befitting – with respect towards those who lost their lives there.
FOCUS: What you say is that, despite the bad weather and winds, we will be warmed by the history, patriotism, and love towards the motherland at this moment?
Galina Stoyanova: In every one of us, in every part of our blood, we must have that respect and memory of the Bulgarian bravery, for how we must live our lives with proud, raised heads. There is nothing we should be ashamed of. And the traditions, the history give us a reason to be even more confident in our actions, and act in a way that those after us are proud of us, and for there to be a reason to respect traditions. I wish all Bulgarians be healthy, confident, and strong, and to not let neither the winds, nor today’s weather and events break the Bulgarian will.
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