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Regular version of the site

Culture Café: Ukraine, Belarus and Bulgaria

April 4, 2018 – what happened on this day, and why did we decide to mention it here?
You guessed it – our latest Culture Café. This one was a little unusual. We had 3 countries in one go! Ukraine, Belarus and Bulgaria – 3 trips, 3 amazing countries, so different but so similar. We want to thank all the students who took part in creating such awesome presentations about their countries: Anastasia Ozerova (Ukraine), Anna Baranova (Belarus), Adrian Stefanov, Kristina Todorova and Margaret Alexandrova (Bulgaria).

 

The first part of the Culture Café was dedicated to Ukraine and Belarus. The girls told us about the history of these countries, which was unpredictable, but definitely interesting. Everyone knows that Ukraine and Belarus are like siblings, so their languages are quite similar as well. For example, in Ukrainian ‘work’ is ‘праця’ (pratsya) and in Belarusian ‘праца’ (pratsa). Cool, isn’t it?



The next point was about reasons to visit Belarus. Did you know that Belarus gives an opportunity to stay without a visa for 5 days for citizens of more than 70 countries? Now you know! Additionally, there are a lot of cities which cannot be compared to any other. For example, Minsk has a street full of graffiti (street-art) where you can find various works of different painters.

Belarus also has great historical heritage – Brest fortress. It is formerly known as Brest-Litovsk  Fortress, which was given the name Hero Fortress in order to commemorate the defence of the frontier stronghold during the first week of the German-Soviet War. It happened when Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, with the launch of World War II's Operation Barbarossa.  Belarus is also famous for its huge and incredible castles – Mir Castle, Nesvizh Castle are two examples. If you want to become a part of its history for a while, you can have this chance.

We’ve just found out some reasons to visit Belarus. What about Ukraine? What mysteries does it hold? Well, St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Cathedral is located in the capital of Ukraine – Kiev. The beauty of this cathedral will stun you. There is also the Museum of the History of Ukraine in World War II. What’s more, you have a great opportunity to look at modern art and various exhibitions held in Pinchuk Art Centre. Moreover, Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum, about the tragic disaster which happened in 1986 in Pripyat, will give you an opportunity to return to this time and see that day with your own eyes.

But one of the major reasons to visit Ukraine is its wonderful bars and cafes! We want you to pay attention here, because what you will read next could seem weird or even unbelievable. If you visit Lviv, you will be astonished by its pubs. For example, in «Meat and Justice» you can try perfect steaks. But inside, you will be imprisoned, not in jail, but rather in a ‘cage’. We promise you an amazing adventure. If you are a sales-lover and keen on bargaining, we strongly suggest you going to «Под золотой розой» (Under the Golden Rose). Its unique selling point is its payment system; you come, order dishes (they don’t have prices, you just order what you wish), you eat, and after a waiter gives you bill where the total price is written. Here you start bargaining. If you are good at it, in the end, you can pay 10$ instead of 20$. Another place may be more interesting for men. In «Мазох-cafe» (Masoch Café) all the waiters are female, and will serve you in all cases (which exactly, you will explore further). This cafe is named after Zaher Masoch who knew a lot about voyeurism. For this reason, the interior is decorated with depictions of sexual acts. We also ask you not to be surprised if you are lashed by a lovely waiter or feast your eyes on monuments to nude women and men.


If you want to explore Ukraine and Belarus more, we advise you to watch the following videos:Belarus andUkraine.


In the second part of Culture Café, our students from Bulgaria presented their country. They organized a great excursion into Bulgarian history, about the Bulgarian rulers, from Khan Asparuh to Rumen Radev. The story was so interesting that we didn’t even notice how the time was passing.

Culture, as history, has developed over thousands of years. There’s no doubt that it has its unique features. So that’s why we were told about Bulgaria’s dining etiquette, meetings and greetings. By the way, you may have heard an interesting fact about the Bulgarian manner of moving the head for showing ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It’s true! If Bulgarians move their head up and down, it means ‘no’, and if to the left and right – ‘yes’. Folklore, customs and traditions also play an essential part in the lives of Bulgarian citizens. And the regions of Bulgaria can generally be divided according to their music and folklore. The ‘folklore regions’ are Severnyashka, Dobrudzhanska, Trakiyska, Rodopska, Pirinska and Shopska.


 


Bulgaria has many unusual customs and traditions. People there have a carnival against the evil spirits: Kukeri. They also connect red and white colours to the coming of spring. The 1st of March is regarded as the beginning of spring and Bulgarians associate it with a mythical grumpy old woman – Baba Marta. On the 1st of March, they traditionally wear bracelets with red and white stripes. And instead of celebrating Valentine’s Day, Bulgarian people will usually celebrate Wines. This is called “Trifon Zarezan”, and it marks the traditional cutting of the vines. And now for one of the weirdest traditions - spilling water in front of a door. Spill water and you will be successful!


Bulgaria has a charming Festival of Roses, too. But there is no need for an explanation, just look at this beauty:


Furthermore, our students drew our attention to the marvelous beauty of the regions of Bulgaria. A historical city with stunning buildings, parks and lakes, the capital of a wonderful country – Sofia should be the first on your “must visit in Bulgaria” list. Another special location is the Rila Mountains, with their inspiring view of hundreds of lakes and hills. Being in harmony with nature, listening to birds warble, breathing fresh air - won’t it be amazing?  After that, you can continue your trip around Bulgaria in Plovdiv or Veliko Tarnavo. the Roman theatre, Nebet Tepe, Belogradchik Rocks, Perperikon – you can find all these sights and more in Plovdiv or nearby. Talking about Veliko Tarnavo, we should mention Tsarevets Castle, the monument of Asenevi and the famous Devetashka Cave. Enjoy your trip in Bulgaria!

But how can a country exist without its cuisine? We don’t know either. That’s why we will tell you about the traditional dishes of Bulgaria. Banitsa is one of them. It belongs to the börek family and is a kind of pie with cheese between pieces of filo pastry. Another is Tarator – a soup, appetizer or sauce made of ground walnuts, yogurt, cucumber, vinegar/lemon juice and herbs. Next, there is is bob chorba – a national Bulgarian dish from dry beans, chubritza, dzhodzhen (spearmint), onion and carrot. And last but not least, Patatnik - a potato dish with mild mint, onion and salt. Did your tummy start rumbling? Ours did!

We can definitely see how bright and glorious Bulgaria, Ukraine and Belarus are! It’s a pleasure for us to explore the world with the students who come to our Culture Cafés. Thanks everyone for attending Culture Café: Ukraine, Belarus and Bulgaria and for creating a homely atmosphere. We also want to thank Anastasia Ozerova who played a lovely traditional Ukrainian song on Ukraine’s national musical instrument – the сопилка (sopilka – a kind of flute/reed). Dear students, we are waiting for you in our Culture Cafés!


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Author: Ekaterina Didenko

Editor: Irina Klimova

Proofreader: Rachael Horwitz, Shannon Williams