Common Bulgarian Children’s Names – Bulgarian Culture for kids

Bulgarian names usually consist of a given name, which comes first, then a second one – the father’s first name and then the third one (the family name) usually the grandfather’s first name. Traditionally Bulgarian given names might have Latin, Greek, Thracian, Bulgar or Hebrew origin. The idea of parents naming their child after an older relative is his/her name to live on in the family. Nowadays, the parents often ignore these conditions.

When marrying, like in America, a woman may choose to adopt her husband’s family name, retain her maiden name or combine the two using a hyphen. According to the Bulgarian law the husband may also take or add his wife’s family name.

Usually the last name of Bulgarian ends with “-ov”, “-ev” or “-ski” for males (e.g. Ivanov, Nikolov, Andreev, Asenov, Lalev, Sofianski and “-ova”, “-eva” or “-ska” for females (e.g. Ivanova, Asenova, Petrova, Tsvetanova).

Amongst the ten most popular given names are:

GIRLS: Maria, Ivanka, Elena, Alexandra, Viktoria, Desislava, Petya, Violeta, Gergana, Margarita

BOYS: Georgi, Alexandar, Ivan, Dimitar, Martin, Nikolay, Petar, Stefan, Vasil, Yordan

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Common Bulgarian Words and Phrases – Bulgarian Culture for kids

English

Pronunciation

Cyrillic

Good morning!

Do-bro ut-ro!

Добро утро!

Good afternoon!

Do-bar den!

Добър ден!

Good evening!

Do-bar ve-cher!

Добър вечер!

Good night!

Le-ka nosht!

Лека нощ!

Hello!

Zdra-vay-te!

Здравейте!

Goodbye!

Do-vish-da-ne!

Довиждане!

Bye-Bye!

Chiao

Чао

Thank you!

Bla-go-da-rya

Благодаря!

How are you doing?

Kak ste?

Как сте?

I am fine, thank you!

Bla-go-da-rya, do-bre

Благодаря,добре!

What about you?

A ti?

А ти?

Nice to meet you!

Pri-yat-no mi e da se za-po-zna-em!

Приятно ми е да се запознаем!

What is your name?

Kak se kaz-va-te?

Как се казвате?

My name is…

Kaz-vam se…

Казвам се…

Where are you from?

Ot kade si?

От къде си?

I am from the US.

Az sam ot Sasht.

Аз съм от САЩ.

How much does it cost?

Kol-ko stru-va to-va?

Колко струва това?

Don’t worry!

Ne se tre-vo-ji!

Не се тревожи!

Have a nice day!

Pri-ya-ten den!

Приятен ден!

See you later!

Do sko-ro!

До скоро!

Good luck!

Kas-met!

Късмет!

Happy birthday!

Ches-tit rosh-den den!

Честит рожден ден!

Happy New Year!

Ches-ti-ta no-va go-di-na!

Честита Нова Година!

Merry Christmas!

Ve-se-la ko-le-da!

Весела Коледа!

Bless you!

Naz-dra-ve!

Наздраве!

How old are you?

Na kolko si go-di-ni?

На колко си години?

I beg your pardon!

Molya?

Моля?

I don’t understand!

Ne vi raz-bi-ram!

Не ви разбирам!

I don’t know!

Ne znam!

Не знам!

Excuse me!

Iz-vi-ne-te!

Извинете!

What is this?

Kak-vo e to-va?

Какво е това?

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A Brief History of Bulgaria – Bulgarian Culture for kids

Bulgaria is a very ancient country. Recently one of the oldest towns in the world has been found. This town dates back some 6500 years.  Many tribes and people have left their mark on this Balkan country.  The first people to leave lasting traces and cultural heritage throughout the Balkan region were the Thracians. Most Thracians are thought to have lived simply in small villages, usually on hilltops.  They were eventually romanized, with the last remnants surviving in remote areas until 400 AD.

From about 500 AD, the traditional Greco-Roman culture was still very influential, but Christian philosophy and culture were beginning to dominate and replace it.  From 600 AD, Greek became the predominant language in the Eastern Roman Empire’s administration, church and society. Greek replaced Latin.

After the fall of the Greco-Roman empire the Slavs appeared in 500 AD and spread to most of the Balkans. At that time they formed three main branches – the West Slavs, the East Slavs and the South Slavs. The Slavs settled on the territory of modern Bulgaria during the 6th century.

The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic people of Turkic origin. They came from the Russian steppes just north of the Caucasus Mountains. From 100 AD onwards they began to slowly move west. Some of them gave rise to the First Bulgarian Empire.

During the First Bulgarian Empire Bulgarians converted to Christianity and a new Cyrillic alphabet was invented by the brothers Cyril and Methodius.

Bulgaria became a major economic and religious center.

In 1393, the Ottomans captured Tarnovo. The new authorities took Bulgarian institutions apart. Turkish authorities destroyed most of the medieval Bulgarian fortresses to prevent rebellions. Bulgarians were forced to leave the large towns and the areas where Ottomans were in power until the 19th century. The Ottoman Turks forced many Christians to become Muslims, especially in the Rhodopes. Bulgarians who converted to Islam, retained Bulgarian language, dress and some customs compatible with Islam.

In April 1877 Russia and Bulgaria declared war to the Ottomans. This war gave Bulgaria its independence and liberty back. The Treaty of San Stefano was signed on 3 March 1878. The new territory of Bulgaria consisted of the territory between the Danube and the Stara Planina, with its old Bulgarian capital Veliko Turnovo and including Sofia.

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The Bulgarian Alphabet – Bulgarian Culture for kids

The Bulgarian alphabet is called Cyrillic. The Cyrillic alphabet can trace its roots back to 886 AD.  The brothers Cyril and Methodius have created it. By creating this alphabet they were trying to get rid of Latin alphabet from Rome. Initially the alphabet was rejected and accepted later after the Byzantines attack Bulgaria and forces it to accept the conversion to Christianity. One of the main purposes of the Byzantines was to keep Bulgarians and other Slavic peoples apart from Rome and Western Europe by using the Cyrillic alphabet.

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All About Bulgaria – Bulgarian Culture for kids

The Bulgarian culture has been formed over many centuries. Bulgarian traditions root into the distant past and are connected with the history and the Orthodox Christianreligion.  Fire dancing is Old Bulgarian custom, which has been practiced in Strandja Mountain.  Fire-dancers are getting ready all day for that dancing by staying closed in a chapel, keeping the icons of Saint Konstantin and Saint Elena and listening to the melodic sound of bagpipes. When the night comes they start their dance on hot coals always holding an icon of the saints in their hands during the dance. The interesting part of that dance is that the fire-dancers, that are bare-footed, never hurt or burn their feet.

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Mummery is another Bulgarian tradition that has something in common with American culture. Mummery rituals happen around New Year.  They are similar to the Halloween holiday. Men only usually do these rituals, which are wearing special masks and suits made by them. The idea of the mummers is by dancing with those suits and masks to get rid of all demons in the beginning of every year and to go on forward full of positive energy.

Saint Lazar’s Day is ritual connected with the spring. Bulgarians celebrate it 8 days before Easter, the holiday date varies, but it is always on the Saturday before Palm Sunday. On that day Bulgarians make willow wreaths, which they put on their doors for being healthy and lucky through the whole year. Then young girls are visiting the neighbourhood, singing songs and giving blessings to the people.

The martenitsa is probably the biggest symbol of Bulgaria. It is a small bracelet, brooch or necklace traditionally in red and white. The so-called Baba Marta (Granny March) holiday is celebrated on the first of March. On that day people are giving martenistsa to each other. According to Bulgarians martenista is symbol of the new beginning, health and fertility and you have to take it off when you see the first stork returning or a blossom on a tree.

Bulgaria produces most of the worlds’ rose oil and rose is an important symbol of the culture. The rose-picking has now turned into an important tourist attraction. Many festivals are held in the region known as the Rose Valley.

Bulgarians have kept their folklore traditions expressed into their songs and crafts. The traditional Bulgarian folklore dances are called ‘’Horo’’ and ‘’Rachenitsa’’. The dances are performed by all people and at every festival and celebration.

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Bulgarian Fun Facts and Famous Places- Bulgarian Culture for Kids

Fun facts

John Vincent Atanassoff, the inventor of the first electronic computer, belongs to Bulgaria.

Bulgarian rose-oil , is a component of the world-famous perfumes. Bulgaria produces half of the rose oil in the world

The oldest Golden treasure in the world was found in Varna. It is over 6000 years old.

Peter Petroff, a Bulgarian, developed the first digital wristwatch of the world.

One of the most famous opera bass singers Boris Christov and Nickolai Guaurov and the beautiful soprano Raina Kabaivanska are Bulgarians.

The Voyager spacecraft launched in the 1970s carried a laser disc of ten songs believed to be representative of Earth. One of these songs was the Bulgarian tune Izlel e Deliu Haidutin from the Rhodopes region.

Famous places beside Sofia

Plovdiv (Пловдив) is the second-largest city in Bulgaria. It used to be named Philipopolis after Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. It is one of the oldest settlements in Europe. Many Roman ruins can be found here including an ancient theater.

Varna(Варна) is the biggerst seaport city. Many tourists visit it every summer for the sea and cultural festivals.

Burgas(Бургас) hosts one of the biggest festivals in Bulgaria called ’The spirit of Burgas’. Many people who love music gather here every year.

Bulgarian Communication, Values, and Etiquette- Bulgarian Culture for Kids

Communication

The Bulgarian gestures for “yes” and “no” often confuse people from other countries. For “Yes,” they shake their head from side to side. “No” is signaled by one or two nods up and down. It is like the opposite what we do. Bulgarians stand or sit closer together than Westerners. They speak in louder voices and touch each other more often.

Values

The family is in the centre in Bulgaria. Generations of the family often live together. The grandparents help to raise the grandchildren. The family gives emotional and financial support to its members.

Single adults usually live with their parents until they marry. Many young married couple live with one set of parents until they can afford their own home. Elderly parents are often cared for by their children.

Folktales and Fun for Bulgarian Kids- Bulgarian Culture for Children

The sweetest fruit

A father had three sons. He could not decide who deserved his inheritance after his death. So he called his sons, gave them a bag of gold and told them to go and find him the sweetest fruit. The one who would bring the most precious fruit would get the whole fortune. They returned after three years. The eldest son brought white grapes claiming that it is the sweetest fruit. The middle son went south and brought exotic fruits like banana, orange, dates. The youngest son however did not spend the gold and remained home. He went to school with teachers and books. The fruit could not be seen because it was in his heart. The father happily gave him the inheritance claiming that there is no more precious fruit than those witch give a man knowledge.

Children’s Game

Policemen and thieves (стражапи и апаши)

The children play in two teams. One of the team contains the policemen, the other one is for the thieves. The goal of the policemen is to chase the thieves until they catch all of them. After the thieves are caught they must say the password that they made up. Then the teams change and the game starts again.

Sudge (садже)

The rules are: someone passes the ball and says “Your name will be Eliza” and if you don’t want this name, you pass the ball back. If you want this name, you catch the ball. If he or she says to you “sudge” you say the name that you want. If you refuse “sudge”, you keep your previous name. This game is very interesting.

Bulgarian Festivals and Holidays- Bulgarian Celebrations for Kids

Festivals, holidays, Celebrations

Kukeri (кукери) is a traditional festival or ritual in January to scare away evil spirits. Men in costumes perform the ritual. The costumes cover most of the body and include decorated wooden masks of animals and large bells attached to the belt. The kukeri walk and dance through the village to scare evil spirits away with the costumes and the sound of the bells. It is also to provide a good harvest, health, and happiness to the village during the year.

March 1st marks the Bulgarian holiday called Baba Marta. “Baba Marta” means Grandmother March in Bulgarian. This holiday helps to usher out winter and welcome spring with the giving of martenitsi, a white or red thread doll or amulet.  Many people tie them on their wrists or to their bags. If you’re in Bulgaria, you’ll see trees “wearing” the martenitsi that they have been given by passersby.

24 May is known as the “Bulgarian Education and Culture, and Slavonic Literature Day”. It is national holiday celebrating Bulgarian culture, literature and the alphabet. Saints Cyril and Methodius are the most celebrated saints in the Bulgarian Orthodox church, and icons of the two brothers can be found in every church.  They are the “Apostles of the Slavs”. They invented the Cyrillic alphabet that is used by the Bulgarians and also by the Russians.

Bulgarian Clothing- Bulgarian Culture for Children

Bulgarian traditional clothing

Many different costumes can be found within this relatively small country. Different regions have different traditional clothing.

Men’s trousers can be white or black. They are worn with a white shirt , a wide, brightly colored sash, a hat made of black lambskin, leg wraps or knitted socks, and leather peasant sandals, or more commonly today, shoes.

The main categories of woman’s dress found in Bulgaria today are the single or double aproncostume, the closed tunic costume and the open tunic. All three types of costumes comprise a chemise, apron or a tunic and apron, a headdress, a belt, knitted socks and often a waistcoat or overcoat.