As South Africans get set to exchange flowers and chocolates, in Bulgaria they are looking forward to February 14th for very different reasons. In fact, while South Africans might end Friday holding a loved one, in Bulgaria they are just as likely to be holding a bottle of wine.

A traditional day for love

St Valentine was a Catholic saint, so it is not traditional to mark his name-day in Orthodox Eastern Europe, yet in recent years as Bulgarians have adopted more and more culture from Western Europe, so the annual celebration of love and romance has taken hold.

Or a celebration of wine?

In Bulgaria, Trifon Zarezan marks the divide between the end of winter and the approach of spring, so this day is traditionally marked by the pruning of old twigs on a vine ? which in turn allows the fresh life of spring.

As the men set out into the fields to prune the vines, the women bake festive breads decorated in dough vines and grapes, or formed into round loaves which symbolise the fertility of the field.

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Vine King crowned

After the pruning is done, the best vine grower of the previous year is named ?Vine King? and crowned with woven vine sticks. He is then paraded through the village as everyone gathers to eat bread, drink wine and dance through the night.

The traditional belief is that the more wine that flows on that day the more generous the next harvest will be. Today, many Bulgarians in the major cities keep the essence of this festival alive by sharing a great feast and imbibing too much wine.

Give to charity

According to Adelina Velikova, Marketing Manager at 60K, ?This time of year, wherever you live, is a time for love. So, whether it is love of your community and doing something for those who need your help or it is showing your loved one how much he or she means to you, or it is simply about enjoying a fine bottle of wine, everyone ought to do something they love this Friday!?