JULY MORNING FEST
“There I was on a July Morning
Looking for Love
With the strength of a New Day dawning
And the beautiful Sun….”
The sea is life, music is love and the sun is freedom.
Every year on July 1st Bulgarians keep an unique tradition.
A lot of young people gather at Kamen Bryag village on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, the traditional location for the hippy-style celebration of hailing the sunrise, known as July Morning.
The July morning tradition dates back to the hippy period in the 1970s and 1980s and originated as a protest against the restrictions of the communist regime. Nowadays this meaning is lost but the sun worship as a symbol of a new beginning in life motivates young people to keep the tradition alive.
As the name suggests, the anthem of the celebrations is British rock band Uriah Heep’s 1972 hit July Morning, which became widely popular in Bulgaria in the 1980s and somehow named and remained central to this unique Bulgarian tradition.
The song July Morning is usually performed by ex –Uriah Heep`s singer John Lawton in Kamen Bryag near the town of Kavarna.
Usually, in the days before 1st of July, people from across Bulgaria travel (often hitchhiking) to the Black Sea coast to meet the first sun rays on the first day of July. People gather around fires, share drinks, play music and wait for the sunrise. There is no mandatory ritual, ceremony or rite for this tradition and it is up to participants’ discretion how will they spend the night before July 1. On many locations, there are concerts with professional and amateur bands. Camping at the locations of choice for the July Morning celebration is also very popular.
There are many versions of the meaning of the tradition. Most people consider July Morning a celebration of a new beginning and freedom in the spirit of the hippie movement. For others, it is a good reason for a late night/early morning party as July 1 is the first day of summer break for most high schools in Bulgaria and the unofficial start of the summer vacationing season, traditionally culminating with a trip to the Black Sea coast in July or August.