Culture Cafe: Bulgaria

Hello everyone and welcome to our Culture Café dedicated to sunny and shiny Bulgaria! 

Hello everyone and welcome to our Culture Café dedicated to sunny and shiny Bulgaria! February has never been so bright and vivid, great thanks to our ESN international students Beatris Bineva, Ivan Borisov, Denis Olegov and Alexander Kaymakchiev. Thank you for this wonderful evening full of joy and interest, thank you for inviting so many friends and creating unforgettable festive atmosphere. We needed it indeed, and now we are going to share it with you. So be ready to get a charge of positive, let’s go!

How to make comfortable acquittance with a country? Of course, find out few facts about it. So, what so we know about amazing Bulgaria? It’s quite big European country with 7 million population, capital is beautiful Sofia, but other big cities like Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas also can boast picturesque views. Bulgarian people have interesting origin as they are mix of Thracians, Slavs and Bulgarians.

Do you know any famous Bulgarian people? For example, Botev Christo, important for Bulgarian history revolutionary and poet or Vazov Ivan, still significant for Bulgarian literature very famous writer. Perhaps, you’ve heard about Aleksandr Panayotov Aleksandrov and Georgi Ivanov Kakalov, two first Bulgarian cosmonauts to fly to space. There are many Great Bulgarians, but we didn’t have enough time to talk about all of them! It’s really entertaining to explore history and culture through the stories of important for this country people. We only told you a few, the smallest part, it’s your turn to study and develop!

An integral part of our meetings is familiarity with cultural traditions, customs and features. Kukers are one of the prominent examples. These are carefully designed costumes of Bulgarian men and sometimes women who perform traditional rituals designed to ward off evil spirits. The costumes cover most of the body and include decorated wooden animal masks and large bells attached to the belt. On New Year's Eve and before the Lent, Cookers walk and dance through the villages to scare away evil spirits with their costumes and the sound of bells. They are also believed to provide a good harvest, health and happiness for the village throughout the year. Another special holiday for Bulgarians is St. Jones Day. For Bulgarian Orthodox Christians, January 7 is the day for honoring St. John the Baptist who baptized Jesus Christ in the Jordan River. The day of St. John the Baptist is also known as “Ivanovden” in Bulgaria. And one more extraordinary celebration is the Anastenaria, or Nestinarstvo, a traditional barefoot fire-walking ritual with ecstatic dance performed in some villages in Northern Greece and Southern Bulgaria.

Thinking of visiting Bulgaria? Don’t know where to go? Be sure, we have some suggestions for you to spend amazing time there and take fabulous photos. Visit the castle of Tsarevets, the Second Bulgarian Empire's primary fortress, housing the royal and the patriarchal palaces. It’s already become popular tourist attraction, so you won’t regret it. Not far from the castle situated Kapinovo Monastery, historical building with beautiful waterfall and unbelievable views. Certainly, don’t forget to see with your eyes the Rila Monastery, the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. It is located in Rila Mountains, so you will have opportunity to enjoy nature!

A rather popular topic of our meetings is a discussion of national sports. Probably, many of you know about Grigor Dimitrov, worldwide know Bulgarian teensiest reached №3 in ATP’s ranking in 2017. Excellent success country can be proud of athletics, because Stefka Kostadinova holds the world record in women’s high jump – 209 cm. “The strongest man of the 19th century” Nikola Petrov was also Bulgarian. And if you fond of boxing, then you definitely should know Pulevi brothers – the most famous active Bulgarian professional boxers. So many sports, so many people, so much to master!

Finally, beloved by many of us and our listeners part is food! Bulgarian food is about bread, vegetables and meat. This kind of kitchen is quite close to Russians, as we also do and like sour cabbage preserved in barrels. Special for Bulgarian cuisine dry aged sujuk – dry aged sausage, very delicious! Hungry? Or, maybe, thirsty? Then try rakia, popular Balkans fruit brandy, can be made of grapes, pears, apples, apricots, plums, whatever you like!

On that tasty note we end up with discovering Bulgaria. We were great to invite everyone to open up bright and various world of the Bulgarian delicacies. Thank you everybody for coming, thank you our dear presenters for giving an opportunity to immerse into magical universe of Bulgarian culture. Can’t wait for the next amazing journey, can’t wait for our next Culture Café!

Text: Svetlana Dzhafarova