Biggest holidays and celebrations
- Easter is the most important religious holiday in Bulgaria.
- March 3rd is the National holiday. On that day in 1878 the Treaty of San Stefano was signed, which ended the Russo-Turkish war. As a result, The Principality of Bulgaria was established as an autonomous state after 500 years of Ottoman domination.
- September 6th is a bank holiday celebrating the Unification of the Principality of Bulgaria with Eastern Rumelia (then still an Ottoman province).
- May 24th is Bulgarian Education and Culture and Slavonic Alphabet Day. It celebrates the creation of the Cyrillic alphabet.
Bulgarian celebrities you should know
- Lili Ivanova, a beloved Pop singer, often referred to as the Prima of Bulgarian pop music.
- Christo, Bulgaria-born painter and installation artist
- Nina Dobrev, a Canadian actress of Bulgarian descent
- Dimitar Berbatov, football player, former Manchester United striker
- Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria’s most successful male tennis player, also known as “Baby Fed” because of his similar playing style with Roger Federer
- Irina Bokova, politician who became Director-General of UNESCO
Food taboos and favourites
The most popular Bulgarian foods include:
- Лютеница (lyutenitsa) is a spread made of roasted red peppers and other vegetables. Roasted peppers are widely used in Bulgarian cuisine. In Bulgarian homes you will even find a special machine called a pepper roaster.
- Баница (banitsa) – pie typically made with filo pastry and cheese.
- Ракия (rakia) – liquor made of grapes or other fruits, similar to grappa
- пита (pita) or погача (pogatcha), sweet or salty bread. Bulgarians have a tradition of baking bread for any important event in life (weddings, births, funerals etc).
Potential shockers for foreigners:
- Боза (boza), a very popular fermented drink made of millet.
- Шкембе чорба (shkembe chorba) or tripe soup
- Offal (internal organs of animals). Many Bulgarians like to eat offal, which is certainly not every visitor’s first choice.
Most important Bulgarians in history
- Hristo Botev (1848-1876) – the most notable Bulgarian revolutionary poet.
- Vasil Levski (1837-1873) – a true national hero, revolutionary who founded an Internal Revolutionary Organisation to liberate Bulgaria from Ottoman rule.
- Simeon the Great – during his rule (893-927) Bulgaria reached its greatest territorial expansion ever. His reign was also a period of unmatched cultural prosperity known as the Golden Age of Bulgarian culture.
- Ivan Vazov (1850 – 1921) – a Bulgarian novelist, author of the most popular Bulgarian novel – “Under the Yoke”
Bulgarian landmarks and significant places
- The Black Sea with its wide and long sandy beaches
- Belogradchik Rocks – rock formations of sandstone famous for their weird shapes
- Veliko Tarnovo – an old Bulgarian capital
- The Valley of Roses
- Plovdiv – Bulgaria’s second-largest city and one of the oldest settlements in Europe
Finding a common language with Bulgarians
The languages spoken in the country are Bulgarian, Turkish (about 10%) and Romani ( about 5%). Signs are mostly in Bulgarian, so a basic grasp of the Cyrillic alphabet might be very handy when travelling to Bulgaria.
- English: workers in post offices, train stations, shops, etc mostly do not speak English. However, Bulgarians tend to be very helpful and if you are lucky you might have English speaking people in the queue who will readily assist you. Young generations mostly speak English.
- German: Many Bulgarians of all ages speak German. In recent years German is even becoming a preferred foreign language to English in schools.
- Russian was a mandatory subject in schools during the Communist regime. That’s why most educated people born before 1970 would be able to have a effective conversation in Russian.
Popular music genres in Bulgaria
Pop and pop-folk. Besides the pop music that is on the radio Bulgarians like to listen to pop-folk. This is folk-inspired music with influences from other Balkan countries.
Traditional folk. Even though it is mostly popular with older generations, traditional folk music is still widely appreciated. No wedding goes without dancing the national folk dance horo. Many Bulgarians do folk dancing as workout exercise.
Hard-rock dinosaurs. Hard rock bands from the 1970s, such as AC/DC, Metallica, etc. are still quite popular.
Popular sports in Bulgaria
- Rhythmic gymnastics
Symbols of Bulgarian identity
The national flag is of course a very meaningful symbol. The national costume (носия) is also important and varies for the different parts of the country.