The Bulgarians

Bulgaria’s population of 7.4 million people is predominantly urbanized and mainly concentrated in the administrative centers of its 28 provinces. Most commercial and cultural activities are centered on the capital and largest city, Sofia. The strongest sectors of the economy are heavy industry, power engineering, and agriculture, all of which rely on local natural resources.

The country’s current political structure dates to the adoption of a democratic constitution in 1991. Bulgaria is a unitary parliamentary republic with a high degree of political, administrative, and economic centralization. It is a member of the European Union, NATO, and the Council of Europe; a founding state of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE); and has taken a seat at the UN Security Council three times.

GESTURES

The first thing you should know when communicating with a Bulgarian person (businessman or not) is the head gestures for “yes” and “no”. Bulgarians shake their heads horizontally for “yes”, but they nod their heads vertically when they want to say “no”. In case you find this confusing it is best to give a verbal answer with “da” for “yes” and “ne” for “no”.

Bulgarians greet each other by shaking hands. Close female friends may kiss one another on the cheek. The most common formal greetings are: Как сте? [kak ste] (“How are you?”) and Здравейте! [Zdraveite] (“Hello”).

BULGARIAN CUSTOMS

On the 1st of March Bulgarian people celebrate a traditional holiday called Baba Marta (or Grandma Marta in English) and it is related to welcoming the approaching spring. People all over the world meet spring with joy and new hopes but in Bulgaria it is saved as an ancient tradition. On that day, Bulgarians exchange, so called “Martenitsi” (“Martenitsa” – singular, “Martenitsi” – plural) and tell each other, “Chestita Baba Marta!” (Happy Grandma Marta!). This custom is essentially to wish great health, good luck, and happiness to family and friends. The name “Martenitsa” is taken from the Bulgarian word for March, or, as a legend tells, an angry old lady called Grandma Marta – Baba Marta in Bulgarian (“baba” means grandmother and Marta comes from word “mart”, which means March in Bulgarian).

Tsvetnitsa or Vrabnitsa (Palm Sunday) is one of the biggest Bulgarian holidays – “a Holiday of flowers and trees” rich in a variety of customs, songs and melodies. Palm Sunday is held annually on the last Sunday before

Easter and it is the people’s belief that this is the day of the fields, meadows and forests. Being one of the most beautiful spring holidays it celebrates the day of the entrance of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, when he was welcomed with palms and olive branches. Bulgarian Orthodox tradition uses more readily-available willow branches instead of palm ones, and people wind them into small crowns they put on the heads of the children for health and blessing

Nikulden – The Day of Saint Nicholas – a great winter festival celebrated by all Bulgarians on December 6th. It is the name day for everyone named Nikola, Nikolay, Kolyo, Nikolina, Neno, Nenka, Nikolina or Nina. The traditional Nikulden meal in each household is based upon a fish meal – “ribnik” – a carp in dough – is traditional for the holiday.

HOLIDAYS
Official national holidays in Bulgaria:

1 January – New Year’s Day

3 March – National Holiday /Bulgaria’s Liberation from the Ottoman Empire/

1 May – Labour and International Worker’s Solidarity Day

6 May – Gergyovden (St. George’s Day) and the Bulgarian Army’s Day

24 May – The day of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, who created the Cyrillic alphabet. Bulgarian Education, Culture and Slavic Script Day

6 September – Unification Day

22 September – Independence Day

1 November – Day of the Bulgarian Enlighteners (Holiday for all educational institutions)

24 December – Christmas Eve

25, 26 December – Christmas Days

Easter Holidays – 4 days /Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday and Monday/ according to the Orthodox calendar of the year

University Holidays:

15 November – Celebration of NSA “Vassil Levski”

8 December – Official holiday of Bulgarian students