Customs and traditions in Bulgaria.

February 8, 2016
Kukeri

Kukeri – An old and scary Bulgarian tradition

The unknown Kukeri carnival You have probably heard of the carnivals of Rio or Venice. If you do some research, you will undoubtedly encounter theories, attributing the origin of the carnival tradition to Roman and Greek pagan traditions, some of which were connected to Bacchus/Dionysus, a Thracian and Greek god of wine. However, what you may not know is that we also have a carnival of our own, dedicated to the exact same deity. We call it “Kukeri” and it’s one of the most ancient pagan traditions we still follow to date. When is Kukeri carnival celebrated? Every year in January and February (depending on the region) in towns and villages around the country Bulgarians and foreign guests gather to enjoy this special kind of festival. The kukeri, traditionally men only, are the protagonists in this ancient mystery. They form a procession through the streets and perform ritual dances dressed in their handmade costumes. The scarier the outfit, the better, as the goal of the whole rite is to chase away the evil spirits of winter. The Kukeri costumes… The […]
December 24, 2015

5 Bulgarian Christmas facts and traditions

It is winter and for the Bulgarians it is the time for celebrations. Back in the day when most of  us were dealing with agriculture and livestock breeding there was a lot of free time during the winter. Back  during that time the winter would start with Dimitrovden  (St Dimitar’s Day) and ends about Gergiovden (St. George’s day).  During the winter we celebrate tons of days dedicated to Saints and name days, as well as Christmas. Christmas is one of the most loved holidays in Bulgaria and a very popular time of the year when families get together. In Bulgaria just like everywhere else around the globe the Cristmas spirit is here and we are ready for celebrating. Here are some of the most popular facts and traditions about Christmas in Bulgaria: 1. We celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. Bulgarians are mainly Eastern Orthodox, but we follow the Gregorian calender and we have Christmas on the 25th of December. 2. Christmas in Bulgaria lasts three days  starting on […]
May 19, 2015
Carpets Making - The tradition of Chiprovtsi | Free Sofia Tour

The tradition of Chiprovtsi Carpets Making

The Bulgarian local tradition of carpets making is still kept in two major regions of the country The northwest regions, with centres at Chiprovtsi and Samokov, and the east, at Kotel, keep the tradition alive. The famous Bulgarian carpet center has unique value for the local community and the region itself, but also receives worldwide recognition worthy of its quality. Since November 26th, at the ninth session of UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Chiprovtsi carpet weaving was entered as the third Bulgarian element recorded in the World Representative List of the Elements of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Chiprovtsi Carpets Making: The handwoven carpets (kilimi) are made by the women of Chiprovtsi They are using an unique technique of weaving on a vertical handloom. The weaver takes several threads of the warp with her left hand, interlaces the weft yarn into the warp and uses a small beater to tighten the weave. The women say prayers and make wishes for luck and success before starting a […]
May 11, 2015
Culture tour - Experience bulgarian tradition | Free Sofia Tour

365: Culture tour or how to experience Bulgaria through all of your senses

About 3 years ago our Association had many ideas for new and different tours in Sofia. On our daily walking tour we keep getting asked the same questions: what is the typical food?, how do you live?, why do you nod differently?, how much is the average salary and rent? are there Nobel Prize winners from Bulgaria and so on. So, we figured it out (quite fast) – a Culture Tour is needed. (link for the tour) This is when we started to work on the new tour, we started to research, to attend folklore festivals, to speak to professors of ethnography, to learn new interesting facts about Bulgarian culture, in order to finally put the whole puzzle together. We decided to concentrate on the things that distinguish the Bulgarians and our culture from the rest of the Balkans. This way we formed our top 10 most important things everybody should know about Bulgaria and you will have the chance to experience all of them on our new Culture tour: Culture […]
April 2, 2015

Common Bulgarian Phrases

Translating from Bulgarian to English is usually really easy and there are no problems in understanding the meaning. But when you have to translate something figuratively, this is when it gets really funny. Today we have prepared for you some tissues, because you will laugh to tears at the end of this blogpost. This time we will introduce you to the most famous Bulgarian phrases we use in our everyday life, which probably have no meaning and can hardly be translated into English, but on the other hand are quite stunning for foreigners. If you happen to learn some of them you will easily amaze all your Bulgarian friends. Bulgarian Phrases trasnlated figuratively: Как я караш?  – How do you drive her? Meaning “How are you doing?” Всичко е ток и жица! – Everything is electricity and cable! Meaning that everything is OK, or even better than that (usually follows “How do you drive her?”) Мани, мани! – Remove, remove! This is used when something is wrong and you don’t like […]
February 13, 2015

February 14th in Sofia – St. Valentine’s Day or Celebrating Wine?

  February 14th is just around the corner. And the closer it gets, the more excited we are. Why? Because in Bulgaria, it is not merely a holiday – but a two-in one holiday! On this date we Bulgarians celebrate not only St. Valentine’s Day but also the Day of St. Triphon Zarezan – the feast of vine growing and wine producing. St. Valentine’s Day in Bulgaria? Although St. Valentine’s Day is not a traditional Bulgarian feast, for many people in Bulgaria February 14th is a very special day, because it involves a lot of romance and love. Over the last decades, we have embraced the well-known Western celebrations of St. Valentine’s Day – spending the day or evening with a loved one at a romantic place – a nice restaurant, a romantic dinner at home, the cinema or the theater… And couples who happen to have more free time (and money) indulge in a nice hotel with mineral water, spa procedures and massages, or with a short trip outside the country […]
January 27, 2015
Surva - International Masquerade Festival close to Sofia | Free Sofia Tour

Surva – International Masquerade Games Festival close to Sofia

Surva – Celebrated each year on the last weekend of January The citizens of the Bulgarian town Pernik, situated 30 minutes away from Sofia celebrate Surva. Surva is an International Masquerade Games Festival. The event evolved from a local holiday into an international festival back in eighties of the last century. Since then it attracts people from all over the world. Last year over 6 000 people from Europe, Asia, and Africa attended. To make it more interesting and challenging it is organized as a contest between the different Bulgarian folklore groups taking part in it. What is its meaning? Festivals as this one are the successors old Bulgarian custom called “kukeri gatherings“. The gatherings took place in many towns and villages in Bulgaria. For the different regions the tradition took place at different times of the year. The kukeri gatherings are most probably are pagan tradition. The first written evidence of them is dated back to the VI century. Kukeri are the masks and costumes that the people use to […]
January 20, 2015
The name day: A Special Day for a Special Name | Free Sofia Tour

Name day: A Special Day for a Special Name

In this post we would like to introduce you to a widespread Bulgarian tradition: the name day. If you ever wondered what this is or why we have it – apart from the countless Bulgarian holidays, we also have days when we honor our names, so let’s hope that the following will shed some light on the subject. Celebrating name days is a wonderful folk custom, still very common and strongly associated with the life of Bulgarians. It gathers you with your family, gets you to make some new friends, takes you away from the daily grind, but, most of all, it shows respect and attention to a person bearing a special name. This is a tradition (the name day) revered since ancient times, but how old is it actually? Well let’s honor the custom in Free Sofia Tour and start with a small historic introduction. Name days have existed in our culture for a long time. With the introduction of Christianity in Bulgaria, people began to baptize their children […]
January 12, 2015

The Seven Most Picturesque Monasteries In Bulgaria

According to the Holy Scripture seven is the number of perfection, which rules time and space. Seven are the days in the week, where Saturday is meant for God to rest, in the Old Testament tradition. In Christianity, sanctity is transferred from the sixth to the seventh day, Sunday, when it is believed Jesus Christ rose from his tomb. In the weeks after the holidays it is a good idea to look inside yourself and search for the spirituality that will bring you above the material world. That’s why we recommend a tour of the seven of the most beautiful monasteries in Bulgaria. Klisurski Monastery Sveta Petka (St. Parascheva of the Balkans) in Bankya This monastery is situated in close proximity to the capital Sofia and is probably one of Bulgaria’s most interesting renovated monasteries. With the colorful images of saints both in- and outside, the cloister resembles a sugar figure in а confectionery. The biblical quotes inscribed on the walls invite for reflection. This is actually one of the oldest […]