Bulgarian culture, traditions, habits, music and folklore.|
The Bulgarian lands have been inhabited by various tribes that have developed a rich and varied culture. Learn more about bulgarian traditions, folklore and festivals. Ask your question about Bulgarian habits and culture.
Pages with Questions - CULTURE AND TRADITIONS: 
50. What is Bulgarian tradition for St.Sava`s Day?51. What is Karakondjo days?52. What about Folklore Festival Veliko Turnovo?53. What about Festival of Koukers (Kukeri)?54. About Yes and No when Bulgarians nod and shake their heads55. Who are the Nestinari?56. Bulgarian folk dress (costumes)57. Is there any specific tradition for Bulgarian weddings?58. Are Bulgarian People Hospitable. If they have a guest from abroad what are they going to do-accomodation? food? What is general thing the visitor has to do?59. What about smoking in Bulgaria?
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Q50: What is Bulgarian tradition for St.Sava`s Day?
A50: St.Sava`s Day (5 December) is name day of persons with names Sava, Elisaveta, Slav, Slavka. In folk legends this is the holiday of saint Androgin. That is why in some villages Sava is a woman, a saint, sister of Varvara and Nicholas. At other places Sava is a man, protector of wolves, also called “wolf herd”. On this day barren women get up very early and sift the flour in a new sift, tuned upside down. The oldest woman in the house pronounces the words: “Turn the sift, my child, and your belly will be turned.”And they believe that after the ritual bread is given out at crossroads, the woman will have a child within a year. Sava comes from the Old Greek ‘Saturday’ (foreseeing).
Q51: What is Karakondjo days?
A51: By bulgarian folklor Mrasni dni (Dirty Days) are between 25 December and 6 January. In some parts of the country they are also called “karakondjo days”.
The folk myth tells the story that during these days the earth is visited by evil spirits – vampires, goblins and bugbears, who want to “lap the blood of the slaughtered pigs” and do evil to people. During that period people don’t arrange engagements, weddings and commemoration ceremonies. They put a clove of garlic in the children’s clothes to protect them during the day.
Q52: What about Folklore Festival Veliko Turnovo?
A52: Folklore Festival Velink Turnovo is said to be one of the biggest international folklore forums in the Balkans. It is a huge national event with world fame and a unique atmosphere. It was held for the first time in 1998. It is early fest held in summer (last week of July). The traditional Centre of the Festival is the old capital of Bulgaria - the town of Veliko Tarnovo. During the previous festivals many concerts were held in the towns and villages in the region featuring both Bulgarian and international performers.
The Veliko Tarnovo International Folklore Festival is the only one held in Bulgaria, which has been granted the status of a Festival of CIOFF /International Council of the Organizers of Folklore Festivals and Traditional Arts at UNESCO/.
The folklore school for foreigners is organized and held during the festival. The classes for foreigners include instruction in Bulgarian national dances and in playing traditional musical instruments.
The programme of the Folklore school also offers visits to ethnographic complexes and to cultural and historic sites in the region.
more info >> http://www.folklorefest.com/Festival/eng_part/indinfo.htm
Q53: What about Festival of Koukers (Kukeri)?
A53: International festival of the Koukers (mummers) and masquerade games – held every year on 11 January in the region of the towns of Pernik and Dupnitsa. It gathers dancers from all over Bulgaria, performing kuker folk dances (mummers), observing the old custom of the sourvakars for fertility. The participants, named Kukeri, wear traditional masks and costumes and perform ancient dances to drive away the evil spirits.
Similar festivals take place at other parts of the country like the Rodopi and Strandja mountains.
Q54: About Yes and No when Bulgarians nod and shake their heads
A54: Bulgarians nod their head to say no and shake their heads to say yes. But to confuse you even more the resorts and city`s do it the western way, so you dont have a clue if they mean yes or no.
Q55: Who are the Nestinari?
A55: Nestinari - Fire Dancers. Nestinarstvo is an amazing phenomena in Bulgarian folklore. This ritual is unique for the territory of Strandja Mountain in South-Eastern Bulgaria. Nestinari (pagan practitioners) dance barefoot on embers to mark the arrival of summer on May 21st- the day of St. Constantin and Elena. The ritual might originate from ancient Thracian's who practiced Dionysian rites. For Nestinari dancing on embers is not about entertaining people; it’s a personal spiritual ritual that cleanses and brings insight into past, present and future.
Nowadays, visitors can see nestinari performing for the tourists in some tourist resorts.
more info >> http://www.balkanfolk.com/participants/topchijski.html
Q56: Bulgarian folk dress (costumes)
A56: Bulgarian folk clothes are very colorful and nice. Both women and men wear white shirts with an embroidered bodice and skirts, richly ornamented as well. The types of folk clothes vary according the region and some times are very different, as though from different countries. The clothes are so colorful and pretty that it seems they reflect all
the colors of nature.
It is not possible to see people wearing traditional clothes in the streets, as with kimonos in Japan. Bulgarians wear modern dress, which are quite the same as anywhere in Europe. But there are a lot of Folklore schools that study and preserve national traditions - dances, clothes and folk music.
based on article by Rossen Zlatev
more info >> Dir.asp?pg=7&d=faq-traditions
Q57: Is there any specific tradition for Bulgarian weddings?
A57: There are totally various ceremonies nowadays. It depends of wish of young couple and some times of their parents (because in most of cases they get the expense for the wedding party). Today a lot of traditions from the past are forgotten, other are changed and updated. All the same there are some traditions (or habits) that are practice for most of the wedding rituals:
- Most weddings in Bulgaria take place on Saturday on Sunday
- There are no (or less) weddings in period of fasting (for example before Easter)
- The guests of the party bring gifts
- The bride is in white and the bridegroom in dark (black, gray or dark blue)
Summary nowadays the wedding day pass in this way:
- Early on the morning of the wedding the friends of the boy gather at his home
- The boy, his friends and his parents go to the future godfather of the young family
- Together with the godfather family the company go to the home of the bride. Sometimes the bridegroom pay (token - as joke) to relatives of the girl for opening of the door. Usually there is small treat from the father of the girl.
- The young couple, relatives and all of the guests go to the ritual hall (It is impossible to get married in church before public - civil procedure). Other guests are already to the ritual house and all of them presence of the ritual
- If there is church ritual - all of the guests go to the church after civil procedure
- When the young couple are family by low there is wedding party (midday or evening) - usually in restaurant
- At this party the young family come last and there are some rituals for their entering
- The godfather take the word for small oration and give the start of the party
- During the party new family go about tables of the guests to say cheers and then guests give them their presents.
- During the party there are a lot of eating, drinks and dances. The guests whoop very often GORCHIVO (bitter) and then the young couple make a kiss.
- The wedding party is usually about 4-5 hours
- Sometimes, after the official party, new family, together with other young people (friends) go to the bar
If you want to learn more about the Bulgarian wedding traditions see this URLs:
Bulgarian Wedding Traditions
The Traditional Bulgarian Orthodox Marriage in the Past
Q58: Are Bulgarian People Hospitable. If they have a guest from abroad what are they going to do-accomodation? food? What is general thing the visitor has to do?
A58: Yes - the Bulgarians are hospitable. If they have guest it is normally guest to be accepted in their home and to be with them on the table (usually for dinner). If the stay is close or it is the first evening the householders give special dinner (not like their everyday) with more salads, food and drinks (in some case it is possible to went to the restoraunts). It is normally to start dinner with salad and rakia (Bulgarian brandy, grappa) and then to continue with main dish (together with beer or wine) and finish with dessert.
For our sorry nowadays in Bulgaria sometimes hospitality depends of financial resources of the host but I am sure you will feel fine without so rich menu on the table because the leading there is their behaviour to you!
It is normally when you go to the first time to bring some small gifts for your householders - for example flower for the lady (it is possible instead bouquet it to be small live flower in flowerpot) and bottle of wine for the gentleman.
Q59: What about smoking in Bulgaria?
A59: Restaurants, bars and cafes are required by low to provide non smoking areas. Usually this is set of 2-3 tables in some cases surrounded by tables for smokers :) Most of Bulgarians are hard smokers - you can meet persons with cigarette at road, bus station, parks, etc.