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Traditional Bulgarian

Customs and traditions in Bulgaria.

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 27, 2015

Baba Marta and the Martenitsa – an old Bulgarian tradition

One of the most ancient traditions in Bulgaria is called “Baba Marta” (literally – “Grandma March”). It is a pagan tradition and we celebrate it on the 1st of March. The symbol of this tradition is the martenitsa.  The martenitsa is a piece of decoration in red and white, which has two main versions. The traditional one consists of two little dolls – Pizho, the male, is white and Penda, the female, is red. You would usually pin this on your clothes. The other version is a bracelet, made of one red and one white thread, which you can put on your hand. The colors of the martenitsa symbolize Bulgarian beliefs: white is for good health and red is for fertility and to scare away the bad spirits. On March 1 you exchange martenitsa with everybody that you know: family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances. When you give them the decoration you wish them everything you want to happen to them during the year. You will also receive plenty of martenitsi and you’ll have to wear them till […]
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 (Venice, Paris, Rome). […]
January 27, 2015

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. Unfortunately, Surva festival will not be held in 2020 due to the water crisis in the city. 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 […]
January 20, 2015

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 of 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 using […]
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 […]
July 29, 2014

The Thracian Community

The Thracians The ancient Greeks used the names Traike (Thraike), Treike (Threike), Trek or Threke to refer to the areas northeast of their own lands on the Balkan Peninsula. The Thracians themselves were originally Indo-European tribes. There are different theories for their origin. Some say that they arrived from the northeast around 1,500 BC and mingled with the existing population in our lands. Others think that the Thracians were always a local people. Herodotus wrote that “[the] Thracians are the second largest ethnos – the first one is India. In different areas the Thracian community is named in various ways. However, the manners and customs of the whole nation are the same everywhere.” At first, the Thracians existed in separate tribes. They did not form real states until the end of the second and the beginning of the first millennium BC. These small states were also mostly tribal at first. Some tribal leaders gathered more power than others and then handed it down their line. The first Thracian state that […]
June 6, 2013

Kyustendil: A Hidden Gem

Kyustendil is not one of those pushy places that get right up to your face and demand your attention. In fact, rather aristocratically, it just is there and it’s up to your own initiative and inquisitiveness to discover it. Quite frankly, you should, because there’s a lot going on there. If you ask a Bulgarian about Kyustendil, most likely they will tell you one thing: ‘cherries’. The whole region is famous within the country with the production of the best quality specimens of this fruit and, accordingly, the town holds an annual Cherry Festival. It was this festival that the 365 Association was invited to witness by the Culture and Spiritual Development Department of the Kyustendil municipality. However, it is not the only thing that was the focus of our visit. Our wonderfully welcoming and helpful hosts made sure it became quite clear that the town has a lot more to offer. Where is Kyustendil? Located in southwest Bulgaria, from a tourist point of view the place basically has everything. If you’re […]
May 30, 2013

Bulgaria – the Land of Roses

Coming to Bulgaria, you have probably heard that our beautiful country is also called “the land of roses”. Bulgaria is world number 1 producer of rose oil – from the rare rose type Rosa Damascena. The oil extracted from Rosa Damascena is used as a base element in cosmetics and perfumery all over the world – and ever since the middle ages! If you are looking for the highest quality of rose oil – you should definitely visit the Bulgarian Valley of Roses 🙂     Gathering the roses is quite labor intensive since it must be done by hand. There are between twenty to forty days per year suitable for harvesting – usually end of May, beginning of June. During that period, in Kazanlak – the biggest city in the Valley of Roses – you can enjoy the Bulgarian Rose Festival. It includes a lot of art activities, performances and wine tasting. For a second consecutive year the guests of Sofia landing at Sofia International Airport will be given […]

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