Đurđevdan is a major holiday for Roma from former Yugoslavia, whether Orthodox or Muslim. The various Balkan spellings (Herdeljez, Erdelezi) are variants of the Turkish Hıdırellez.
Ederlezi is the Gypsy name for the Bulgarian and Serbian Feast of Saint George. It’s celebrated on the 6th May, a holiday signaling the beginning of spring, occurring approximately 40 days after the spring equinox. This Spring festival is especially celebrated by Roma people around the former Yugoslavia (and elsewhere around the world), regardless of religious affiliation.
This holiday celebrates the return of springtime and is considered most important. The traditions of the Roma Durđevdan are based on decorating the home with flowers and blooming twigs as a welcoming to spring. It also includes taking baths added with flowers and washing hands with water from church wells. Also the walls of the home could be washed with the water. On the day of the feast it is most common to grill a lamb for the feast dinner. The appearance of music is also very important during this holiday. Aside from dancing and singing, traditional Brass bands are popular.
Đurđevdan in Serbian, Gergyovden in Bulgarian or Jurjevo in Croatian and Bosnian, “George’s day”, is a South-Slavic religious holiday, celebrated on April 23 by the Julian calendar (May 6 by Gregorian calendar). The feast of Saint George is attached to the tradition of celebrating the beginning of spring, and is a very important Orthodox Christian custom of honoring a family patron saint.
Saint George is one of the most important Christian saints in Orthodox churches. Christian tradition holds that St. George was a martyr who died for his faith. On icons, he is usually depicted as a man riding a horse and killing a dragon. Jurjevo is mainly celebrated in the rural areas of Croatia, mostly Turopolje and Gornja Stubica whereas every Đurđevdan is celebrated in many Serbian communities, but mainly in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina. In Croatian St. George is called Sv. Juraj while in Serbian he’s called Sveti Đorđe and in Bulgarian- Sveti Georgi.
In Croatia, the Catholic version of St.George’s day, Jurjevo is celebrated on April 23 by the Gregorian calendar. The tradition is mostly celebrated in northern Croatia, in Zagreb County. According to tradition this day marks the beginning of spring. The use of bonfires is similar to Walpurgis Night. In Turopolje, Jurjevo involves a slavic tradition where five most beautiful girls are picked to play as Dodola goddesses dressed in leaves and sing for the village every day till the end of the holiday.
See also: Ederlezi
Legend has it that the early Gypsies formulated Queen of Hungary’s Water, and claimed it to be a cure-all. It is an excellent astringent for the face and a great rinse for dark hair. It combines gentle, common herbs in a masterful way, it’s easy and inexpensive to make, and it’s very versatile. The Gypsies claimed it was good as a hair rinse, mouthwash, headache remedy, aftershave, foot bath, and who knows what else!
To make it, combine:
- 6 parts lemon balm
- 4 parts chamomile
- 1 part rosemary
- 3 parts calendula
- 4 parts roses
- 1 part lemon peel
- 1 part sage
- 3 parts comfrey leaf
Chop herbs finely. Fresh herbs work best but high-quality dried herbs are next best. Place them in a clean, dry jar. If using dried herbs, fill the jar only half way to allow for expansion.
Heat raw organic apple cider vinegar to a warm (not hot) temperature. Pour in enough to completely cover the herbs with a margin of 2 or 3 inches. Seal the lid. Leave the jar in a warm spot and let the herbs soak for 4 to 6 weeks – the longer, the better. Shake the bottle daily.
Strain the liquid through a stainless steel strainer lined with cheesecloth or muslin. Place in dark cobalt or amber glass bottles, label, and store away from heat and light.
After aging and straining, add 1/2 to 1 cup rose water or witch hazel to each cup of herbal vinegar. Store in dropper or spray bottles. This product does not need refrigeration and will stay fresh indefinitely.
Because it stains, this blend is not recommended for light or white hair.
Source: The Whole Dog Journal
To draw children in a family closer, as well as to stop them from bickering, take water from a stream or river. Bring it to a boil on a fire built with fresh twigs. Write the name of each child on a bay leaf and let them simmer together in the water. Ask Venus (The Goddess of Love) to bless them.
Using a pin, inscribe the names of the children on a pink candle and then light the candle, so that its flame may flicker over your spell.
Take a pink, a blue, and a green ribbon. Braid them together, knot the ends, and tie a knot in the middle. The first knot represents will, the second, wisdom, and the third, activity.
- Remove the pot from the fire and leave it to cool.
- Extract the bay leaves.
- Allow the candle and the fire to burn down.
In the garden or in an unused flower pot, bury the ribbon under the bay leaves. Sprinkle ash from the fire on top, and then plant a rosebush or miniature rose on top of everything. (The rose is a potent ingredient in any love potion.)
As the rose grows, the bond between the children will be strengthened. This spell is also said to work when children from two marriages are brought together.
From: The Good Spell Book
A needle that is accidentally dropped and then found poking upward foretells a visitor before the end of the day. The needle should be picked up and kept. As they say:
Find a pin, pick it up
And all day long you’ll have good luck.
To extend your luck for longer than one day, place the needle in a vase of fresh water and fresh flowers. The essence of the flowers will energize the luck in the needle, and your luck will last longer than the flowers.
When the flowers die, discard them as usual, empty the water, and put the needle in your sewing kit as a reminder of your good luck.
From: The Good Spell Book
Holding a rose or blossom from a fruit tree in your left hand, and a sweet apple cut in half in your right hand, recite the following:
Here is a rosebud pink and sweet.
Here is an apple ready to eat.
Here is a flower ready to open.
Here is an apple, true love’s token.
Here is a rose seeking a thorn,
Here is a love yet to be born.
Come hands, come truth, come thorn.
Throw half the apple over your left shoulder without looking back. Stick your flower into the ground, and eat the other half of the apple.
Found in: Gypsy Magic by Patrinella Cooper