July morning: Bulgaria‘s coolest summer tradition
July morning is one of the newest Bulgarian traditions, with thousands of people going to the coast and celebrating the sunrise on July 1st
Every year Bulgarians celebrate the beginning of summer by waiting for sunrise on July 1st, a hippie-rooted tradition that began as early as the 1980s called July Morning. The festival has its origins in the dissident movement, when the Iron Curtain was still open and symbolized the unbreakable longing for freedom, which since 1989 has itself become a festival of freedom.
Hundreds of people flock to the Black Sea
Every year hundreds of people from across the country flock to the Black Sea to see the first sunrise in July. The idea is that this is kind of a symbolic start to summer – a season where every day feels like a vacation.
People go camping or attend beach music festivals specially organized for the occasion. Others go to the cities of Varna or Burgas or other tourist spots on the Black Sea or venture to natural campsites such as Irakli or Kara-Dere. Some hitchhike, others don’t even go to the coast and prefer to celebrate the occasion in their hometowns.
July morning in the European Capital of Culture 2019 Plovdiv, Bulgaria,
Source: Vislupus on Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0
The tradition is named after July Morning, a song by the British band Uriah Heep. John Lawton, the band’s front man, usually performs in Kamen Bryag, a village on the north of the Bulgarian coast. The cliffs at the village are also the most easterly point in the country, which means that they also receive the first rays of sunshine.
The celebration has gotten so massive that maintaining its free spirits and rock and roll credibility is no longer a must, as various venues across the country offer an abundance of experiences for the occasion.
According to the legend…
As with any real cultural tradition, there are multiple versions of “Juli Morning” ‘s origins, which word-of-mouth stories leave a measure of charming ambiguity.
According to one story, a young man who served in the army in the late 1970s, when Bulgaria was still a communist dictatorship and compulsory military service was mandatory, was on guard duty at night.
On the morning of July 1st, the sun rises over the Black Sea.
Source: Boby Dimitrov on Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.0
Being hippy, he felt depressed at the time and swore that no one should be alone on the first morning of July.
According to another story, three friends spent a night on the beach. They had a battery operated cassette player and all three of them liked Jimmy Hendrix, Uriah Heep and Deep Purple so they took turns playing their favorite music.
Just as the sun was rising, it was the turn of the Uriah Heep fan and put the player on top of the July morning Song that brings forth tradition.
According to another story, this is an ancient Thracian ritual, but it seems very unlikely. Traditions only tend to find some prior justification for their existence to confirm them.
In any case, it happened after that legendary night that the people of Varna gathered on the beach and every year the crowd grew until the celebration spread to the rest of the country.
This is how a modern tradition was born.