Bulgaria is a beautiful and diverse culture filled with traditions that root back centuries and have stood the test of time. Our hope and prayer as a family is to weave Bulgarian traditions and customs into our own family rhythms and daily life. To celebrate similarities and differences and the unique beauty that each individual possesses as valuable and dearly loved children of God.
The official language spoken is Bulgarian with about 84.5% of the population as their native language. The Cyrillic Alphabet is used in the Bulgarian language. Turkish is the most significant minority language at 9.6% of the population and Romani which is at 4.1%.
Some holidays in Bulgaria are similar to those celebrated here in the US. New Years Day is one but with a unique tradition. The children tour their neighborhoods bearing cornel twigs decorated with dried fruit, corn and ribbons. The homeowner lightly swats the children with dogwood branches (the first blooming tree in spring) to bring them good luck in the New Year.
Christmas is another similar holiday and carolers tour villages and are offered specially made bread in return. Easter is celebrated with the decorating of eggs in colorful designs and church services take place late Easter Saturday. At midnight the priest emerges with a candle representing the Resurrection. In city’s around Bulgaria, Easter Day processions take place where an icon of Christ is carried.
Other public holidays include Liberation Day on March 3rd, which celebrates freedom from Ottoman rule and Labour Day on May 1st. St. Georges Day, May 6th, is celebrated with military parades and open air feasting. As well as Unification Day and Independence Day both in September.
There are many festivals celebrating the harvest, religion and faith, art, music and historical events through out the year and traditional Bulgarian dress, music, dance, feasting are all important aspects that make up colorful, fanciful and joyous occasions.
Bulgarian cuisine is diverse because of geological factors such as climate conditions. This providing a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and fruit. Historical cultures that influence Bulgarian cuisine include the Middle East, Turkey, Italy and Russia.
Stews are common either vegetarian or made with lamb, goat meat, beef, chicken and pork. Grilling over frying is preferred especially sausage of different kinds made with pork, often mixed with beef or lamb as well as fish and chicken. Veal and lamb are also used for grilling. Lamb more so in the springtime. Yogurt is a staple in the Bulgarian diet.
Bulgarian cuisine is greatly influenced by the Ottoman period with dishes such as moussaka, gyuvetch, kyufte and baklava (one of my favorite treats, yum!). White brine cheese called “sirene”, similar to feta is widely used in salads and pastries (again yum, yum!).
My heart yearns to touch foot on Bulgarian soil. To experience the many wonderful sights. Joining in on celebrating such an amazing culture and people group. Hearing the language spoken all around me and swaying to the music, dancing right along like no one is watching. Tasting the goodness of their diverse cuisine.
Even more so, my heart yearns and thumps hard in my chest for the day that I will walk hand in hand with our sweet Bulgarian daughter and share her beautiful birth land and rich heritage with her. My desire and prayer for our daughter is that she will come to understand in her deepest core that even if our past is broken, we can overcome adversity with love. From the ashes, new beauty rising, rooting deep, growing strong and graceful.
[This post is part of the Heart for Bulgaria series. An overview of our research on the country of Bulgaria.]