Bulgarian culture and customs, as well as the country itself, are the oldest in Europe. So, it has a rich history and heritage. Once in Bulgaria, you’ll get stunned by the diversity and brightness its culture can offer. Besides its massive celebrations and feasts, you should learn some other awe-inspiring aspects of Bulgarian culture before traveling there.
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Interesting Bulgarian culture facts
Apart from ancient and well-known traditions, there are several funny and somewhat unexpected facts about Bulgarian culture and customs. For example, Bulgarians love to dance barefoot on burning wood sticks! And on Christmas, men go dancing in the freezing rivers of Bulgaria, play instruments, and sing traditional songs. Below, you’ll find some more fun facts about Bulgarian culture and their original ways of celebrating world-famous holidays.
A slightly different February 14
In Bulgaria, this day is also devoted to the celebration of love, but only for the wine! Instead of Valentine’s, it’s the vine-grower’s day. This period is perfect for getting grapevines cut to make sure they bring a rich harvest this year. This leads to another event—the celebration of fertility. This way, every Bulgarian, either single or committed, gathers around in mid-February to worship their love of wine and the fertility of Mother Nature.
Having an important life event?
Whether it’s the first day at school, an important test, or a wedding, Bulgarians spill water in the doorway as the person is leaving home for the important event. After this, the person who`s having a life-changing event gets a cranesbill plant to ensure they succeed 100%.
Bagpipes in Bulgaria?
This may sound odd at first, but it’s a traditional Bulgarian instrument. However, here it’s called “gaida”. Take that, Ireland and Scotland! But don’t get too cocky—it’s a traditional instrument for these two countries as well!
Most common Bulgarian customs and traditions
Apart from somewhat odd customs, Bulgarian culture and traditions are famous for their ancient, sacred events, which are of utmost importance to its people. Below, you’ll see a list of the most important Bulgarian customs and their meaning to the people.
This is a traditional festival celebrated in winter. The dates usually vary due to the region. In this event, only unmarried men can participate, and Bulgarian girls for marriage are only allowed to watch the performance. They dress up in spooky costumes and perform extraordinary dancing to scare the bad spirits away. Bulgarians believe that the louder they dance and shout, the further the spirits will fly away. Now, it’s more common in smaller towns, but most people still support and remember this old tradition.
Meeting spring with Baba Marta
And that’s not the name of a local celebrity or an old lady who’s famous for her healing abilities! Baba Marta is a mythical Grandmother March. She’s quite a grumpy lady with a pretty fickle mood—just like the weather in spring. Her day is celebrated on March 1. People usually ask Baba Marta for mercy so that the winter passes faster and people get a rich harvest. Another symbol of this holiday is the Martenitsa, which is a red-and-white woven bracelet, pompon, necklace, or two little dolls. People wear these around the trees to call the spring and bring happiness to their homes. The white color symbolizes men`s virtues, and the red one—the most noble bulgarian women features.
One of the most ancient traditions in Bulgaria, which is still alive in some small villages near the Turkish border. People dance barefoot on burning wood on the night of two saints—Elena and Constantine. As most people say, performers don’t feel any pain because they enter a state of trance. Special ritual drum sounds help them not get hurt and go through with the whole ritual safely. This is also a popular tradition in some Greek areas. It combines the principles of the Orthodox and pagan rituals. Even though this may look a bit scary, it’s a great way to clean your soul from all the bad deeds and earn forgiveness from the saints.
The culture of Bulgaria is very diverse and full of interesting and rather surprising traditions. Even though many of these customs might seem weird to most foreigners, they’re an important part of the country’s identity. All Bulgarians cherish them till the end of their days. To feel the vibe of these traditions to the fullest, take a chance and come to Bulgaria. Celebrate life together with the locals—you won’t regret it!