The old Bulgarian tradition that is based on walking on fire
Nestinarstvo is one of the oldest Bulgarian customs, which in the past was also practiced in Thrace of the White Sea, and today it is preserved in only a few villages on the Strandzha mountain: Kosti, Rezovo, Brodilovo and Bulgari. In 2009, the ritual was included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. According to some researchers, the roots of the ritual are in the pagan past of these lands and originate in the cult of the Sun of the Thracians. In several villages near the border with Turkey it is still celebrated according to the tradition that has been preserved over the years.
Once the day has begun, we proceed with the icon of Konstantin and Elena from the chapel where it was kept throughout the year, to the nearest sacred source. At the same time, in the center of the city or town, a bonfire is lit and kept by the helpers all day without letting it go out. 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.”
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.