Like the vast majority of countries around the globe, Bulgaria also celebrates its Independence Day. Bulgaria actually managed to lose its independence twice in its long and exciting history: once in the beginning of the 11th century to the Byzantine Empire, and a second time at the end of the 14th century to the Ottoman Empire. So, despite the popular joke that half the world celebrates its independence from the British Empire, our country makes and exception to that rule.
Bulgaria celebrates its Independence Day on September 22nd. This is when, in 1908, Bulgarian knyaz (prince) Ferdinand traveled to the medieval capital of Veliko Tarnovo and solemnly proclaimed Bulgaria’s formal independence from the Ottoman Empire, thus also elevating his own status to the historical title of tsar (originally meaning ’emperor’, but mostly interpreted as equal to to ‘king’ in this context). In case you are wondering, tsar was the official title of medieval Bulgarian rulers from the 10th century onward.
Confused? Well, here’s an explanation. Due both to our complicated history and our love for holidays and celebrations, Bulgarians actually have three national holidays related to the nation’s and the country’s political status. First comes Liberation Day. We celebrate it on March 3rd, because that was the end of the Russo-Ottoman War of 1877-78. The main result of this war (at least from our point of view) was the reemergence of Bulgaria as a country. However, this liberation was both partial, as only a part of the Bulgarian lands were included in the new principality, and incomplete, as even the principality remained formally subjected to the Ottoman Empire. Then follows September 6th, Unification Day. On this day in 1885 Bulgaria was joined by the autonomous Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia. So, our Independence Day follows the previous two both chronologically and on the calendar.
The official holidays in Bulgaria are as follows:
Have we missed something? Oh, yes. Last, but not least, Christmas, which we celebrate in December, even though some Orthodox countries celebrate it in January. Most importantly, we welcome you to our Free Sofia Tour on every one of these days!
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