January 17 – St. Anton's Day in Bulgaria

Posted on January 17, 2017

I get why this day celebrates people who are named Anton and related names -- they were named after the saint; it's the saint's feast day today; it all works -- and even though Saint Anton and his twin brother Atanas were supposed to be blacksmiths, I get why St. Anton's Day is supposed to be about protecting people from illness. Apparently, St. Anton spent twenty years in a secluded building, and he was visited by sick people. He would talk to them for hours. 

But I really don't get why the following activities are banned for the day: spinning, knitting, cooking beans and corn and lentils. I read in one source that those activities were suspected to "make diseases angry."

All I can say to that is that people have always looked for explanations for bad things like illnesses and death, and have tried to figure out ways to prevent and control those bad things. Luckily, we humans have invented science, which is a way of testing cause and effect, looking for evidence, and not fooling ourselves. So now we know a lot more about the true causes and cures for various diseases. We are lucky to live in modern times!

One of the nice customs of the day is to get up early and bake breads, to spread honey on them, and to pass them out to others in the neighborhood. We don't have to believe that the loaves chase away illnesses in order to keep that tradition.

Bulgaria tends to be cold and often snowy in January. 

By the way, the English spelling of "Anton" is "Anthony." Some of the names of people celebrating their name day today include Anthony, Anton, Antonia, Antoanneta, Antoan, Andon, Doncho, Donka, Donna, Donny, Donyo, Tonyo, and Tony.

Also on this date:

Birthday of former First Lady Michelle Obama

Benjamin Franklin's birthday

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