Bulgarian Culture Bridges

Bulgarian News for Your Use

Some Bulgarians’ Cultural Specifics

Bulgarians are known throughout the world for their unique trait of shaking their head side-to-side when they say “yes” and their sharp forward nod when saying “no”, but this does not mean that it is difficult to get along with them! On the contrary, Bulgaria is a hospitable country and Bulgarians are consummate hosts.

Most of Bulgarians have little financially, yet more than 85% of them own their homes. With community support, building a home for a new family is an ancient tradition still practiced in Bulgaria’s small villages. House or villa ownership is still believed the strongest sign of prosperity across the country.

The Bulgarian people’s fondness of nature and their strong cultural bond with their surroundings have permeated the Bulgarian national psyche for centuries. For hundreds of years, Bulgarians have seen nature as their preeminent source of livelihood. Until a mere 50 years ago, the people were almost entirely dependent for their subsistence on the fruits of the land. Even today, most Bulgarian households keep at least a token link with nature and the surrounding landscape, and continue to draw on the generous natural resources of the land. Click here for more about ELC’s Bulgarians’ Bond with Nature Course.

A Bulgarians’ traditional lifestyle includes preparing their own homemade food, rakia and wine. Most people who live in the countryside still collect fruit and grapes for rakia distilling. In fact, every third family in Bulgaria produces their own alcoholic drink. Preparation for long winters includes drying of herbs and mushrooms, pickling of vegetables, making jams and wine. This own home made production is usually offered to guests with pride. To avoid offending your hosts, its best to accept!

Click here to Discover more about ELC’s Bulgarian Cuisine Course   and
Bulgarian Wine Culture Course

Did you know?

That a person of Bulgarian origin is now credited with giving the World the computer. John Vincent Atanasoff developed the first digital computer in 1939. His father was a Bulgarian immigrant who left his homeland for the United States in 1889. Dr. Atanasoff had conceived of a calculating machine that would revolutionize the traditional models in existence at that time. Although credit for the invention of the computer was later incorrectly given to the developers of the ENIAC; a 1972 court case ruled that those engineers had used many of Dr. Atanasoff’s ideas, and he was ultimately given the credit he deserved for his work.

The oldest golden treasure in the World was found in Bulgaria in a Chalcolithic necropolis near the city of Varna; the Black Sea capital of Bulgaria in 1972. It dates from the end of the Stone-copper Age, more than 6000 years BC. The golden decorations and objects found in the necropolis are suggestive of a high level of culture and of an aristocracy that belonged to an ancient civilization that once lived in these lands.

The largest exporter of medicinal plants in Europe is Bulgaria. Bulgaria is the number one exporter of medicinal plants in Europe, and the fourth largest exporter in the world. Over 30% of all known drugs contain active ingredients derived from plants. Bulgaria is very rich in medicinal plants. It has more than 760 species with 330 of them in active use. Bulgarian herbs have very high contents of biologically active substrates. They are widely used by most Bulgarian families as herbs for various teas, curative agents, and spices. Bulgaria exports 15.5 thousand tons of herbs, with trends showing an increase in volume in coming years.

Expatriate Question:
“What are these red and white tassels on the tree?”

ELC Answer: The red and white tassels are called Martenitzy, after the month of March (Mart, in Bulgarian). In our culture these are the colors that symbolize good health. A healthy and beautiful woman is always described with white skin and red cheeks in the Bulgarian folklore. Bulgarians exchange Martenitzy to wish friends and relatives “good health” on 1 March and during the whole month. They wear the Martenitza until they see the first stork, then tie it to the branch of a blossoming tree or put it under a stone, wishing for good luck, fruitfulness and success.

Expatriate Question: “What is that animal with horns and bells?”

ELC Answer: This caricature illustrates the Bulgarian ancient but timeless tradition of meeting the Spring with a “Kukeri” masquerade. The festival occurs in villages across Bulgaria seven weeks before Easter to encourage good weather and bountiful harvests for the upcoming agricultural cycle of nature. Many men dress in elaborate costumes and masks

This ritual is also connected to Bulgarian hospitality. The “Kukery”, with their bells create noise to chase away evil spirits and bring hope for good health and fertility. The procession stops at every village home, where the “Kukery” are provided with homemade food and drink. Click here for more about ELC’s “Kukeri Course”.

Expatriate Question: “What will the Bulgarian do with this bucket of cold water? I hope he’s not thinking of pouring it on my head?!”

ELC Answer: Don’t be afraid! It's an old Bulgarian tradition. When someone is off to a meeting, exam or other important event, we splash a bit of water in front of them before they step out, saying: “Let the good luck goes with you as running water.” This ritual is part of a survival philosophy adopted by Bulgarians in hard times.



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