Bulgarian Food, Fun, Festivals, Language, and More!

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Bulgarian cuisine

Bulgarian dishes are similar to ones prepared in other Balkan countries. They share many recipes. Due to the warm climate and place to grow them Bulgarians eat many vegetables, herbs, and fruits. They usually have a salad for every meal.

A typical Bulgarian starts the day having Banica (баница) and some yogurt or boza (боза) for breakfast. Banica is the Bulgarian’s favorite pasta, they usually fill it with cheese or meat. Bulgarian yogurt is very famous and unique, many countries get their yogurt from there. Boza is a malt drink, made from maize and wheat. It can be found in this region from Albania to Turkey. People like is for its slightly acidic sweet flavor.

The Bulgarians have different salami. It is called lukanka(луканка). They make it under high pressure so the salami is flat and has a stronger taste. Their white cheese that is like feta is called sirene (сирене). It has much fat and very tasty. Sirene is used for the Bulgarians favorite salad, the shopska (шопска) salad. It is made from tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, raw or roasted peppers and has a nice oil dressing. People like to eat it with rakia (ракия), a spirit made if fruits that is typical in the Balkan.

Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years, many Turkish people still live there. Turkish food can be found all over the country. Youngsters love doner kebab(дънер кебаб) it can be bought 24 hours a day. For dessert a dish called baklava(баклава) is often served. It is sweet pastry made of layers filled with chopped nuts and honey.

Bulgarian traditional clothing

Many different costumes can be found in 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 apron costume, 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.

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 a 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.

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 witches 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.

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 center 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 couples live with one set of parents until they can afford their own home. Elderly parents are often cared for by their children.

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 biggest 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.

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