Nikulden (Saint Nicholas Day) 6th December
Patron saint of: fisherman, Sailors and bankers
Date: December 6th
6th December marks Nikulden (St Nicholas’ day) patron saint of fisherman, Sailors and bankers.
His saint day is one of the most loved and celebrated Orthodox Church winter Festivals in Bulgaria.
The usual meal on this day is a carp recipe (Ribnik).
It is also the name day of everyone called Nikolai, Nikola, Kolyo, Neno, Kula, Nikolina, Nikoleta, Nina, Nenka or Nikol.
About Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas, the miracle worker- was born during the third century in Patara (a village now situated in Turkey). His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died during an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.
Bishop Nicholas was exiled and imprisoned under the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, a ruthless persecutor of the Christians. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals. Following his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. He died on December 6, AD 343 in Myra, and was buried in his cathedral church.
The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day.
The autumn fishing season ends on this day. The day’s catch is to be offered to the saint. Fishermen eat the first fish caught right on the shore, before bringing the rest home. Hence, the usual meal on this day is a Ribnik (carp wrapped in dough). Carp is considered St Nicholas’ servant.
Click here for a traditional Ribnik recipe (external link)
There are also two special loaves of bread. The food is blessed at church or at home before being served. After wafting incense over the food, the host raises the bread high, and breaks it in half. He keeps one half while the other one is left on the table.
The Saint Nicholas’ Day table includes, besides the ribnik and the ritual breads, some other, vegetable dishes: cooked corn, boiled wheat, meatless stuffed cabbage or vine leaves, peppers, haricot.
It is on Saint Nicholas’ Day that the table is open to all guests and is not cleared before the day is over. Relatives, friends and neighbours are invited, the table is sanctified and the feast day ends in songs and fun.