Nestinarstvo

Nestinarstvo is one of Bulgaria’s oldest and most fascinating traditions that is still practiced in modern times. Rooted in paganism, nestinarstvo is believed to be a pagan ritual in which dancers walk across embers. By connecting and dancing with the element of fire, Thracians believed to fall into ceremonial prayer trance, praising the Sun God and  asking him to deliver health, prosperity and fertility in the new year.

 

Nestinarstvo Bulgarian tradition
Photo by Nikolay Pandev

When

The ritual takes place on June 3rd, beginning early in the morning with energetic cleansing of the Saints' icons and continuing into the evening.

Where

The Nestinarstvo ritual originates in the mystical Strandzha mountain and is most authentically practiced in the villages of Kosti, Rezovo, Brodilovo and Bulgari.

Additional information

Unfortunately, many restaurants have taken this ancient ritual and commercialized it. We advise you attend one of the authentic celebrations.

When dusk falls on June 3rd in the small villages of the Strandzha mountain, the mystical fire embers beckon the Thracian God of the Sun and only those who can dance with the fire can harness the power of his visit. 

When night comes, a “carpet” of burnt wood is extended, 2 meters long and 6-8 cm wide. Barefoot dancing on coals is a unique custom performed by certain communities. The person representing the “Nestinar” takes the icon in their hands and, in a trance state, with the sounds coming from the gaidas and the drums, dancing walks on the carpet on fire.

The interesting thing is that they do not have wounds or burns on the soles of their feet. This popular festival is registered as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2009. It is believed that this ritual protects the “Nestinari” and the people surrounding the dance from diseases and misfortunes. It is worth coming and contemplating the mystery of these magical dances of Nestinari.

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