BLAGOEVGRAD, Bulgaria (AP) — Orthodox Christians in Bulgaria on Friday observed a holiday traditionally associated here with bees and honey.
It was the Day of St. Haralambos, a patron saint of beekeepers, who also is known as "the lord of all illnesses." Believers pray to him to protect their home and health.
Hundreds came to the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin church to observe the holiday, and many prayed for an end to the freezing weather that has threatened honey bees and farm output in this Balkan country of 7.4 million, where some 80 percent of the people are Orthodox Christians.
Beekeepers were among those who joined in a holy Mass for "the sanctification of honey."
The worshippers also placed small jars holding honey and lit candles on the floor of the church to form a large cross. A priest consecrated the honey, which people here say has healing properties.
Honey bees across the world have been declining in population from various causes. In Bulgaria, beekepers expect a heavy bee die-off this winter due to the severe frost.