A Guide to Bulgarian Culture and Tradition

Bulgaria is a relatively small country and the population lives closely together. They are a very family orientated society with a strong sense of tradition and a deep respect for their past. They also have a strong work ethic and are very competitive when it comes to business deals. Consequently, it is important to establish a good rapport with the people you deal with in order to achieve success.

It is customary in Bulgaria to offer hospitality to visiting foreigners, especially when staying in their home. It is important not to decline their invitation as they may become offended. This is particularly true if the person offering hospitality is a relative as they are usually regarded as a close and valued friend. In addition, Bulgarians are very curious about the world and how other people live so be prepared to answer their multiple questions!

Many of the foods in Bulgaria are influenced by Ottoman cuisine and share a number of characteristics with Middle Eastern dishes. This includes cold soups such as tarator and the common bulgarian pastry of baklava.

In addition, there are a wide range of traditional Bulgarian meat and vegetable dishes such as kufte (flat meatballs) and lozovi sarmi. Both of these meals are traditionally eaten on St George’s Day. Chezerme is a slow-cooked lamb dish where the meat is slowly cooked around an open fire and served with ritual bread, vegetables and wine or rakia. It is a feast and takes several hours to prepare.

The Bulgarian language has three grammatical genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. Generally speaking nouns ending in a consonant or in the zero-ending are masculine (grad /grat/ ‘city’, sin /sin/’son’, m’zh /muS/’man’); those ending in -a/-ia or -o are normally feminine (zhena /Ze’na/ ‘woman’, dshcheria /daSter’ja/ ‘daughter’) and words in the -e/-iu pattern are neuter (dete ‘child’, ulitsa’street’, meniu’man’). Words in this group generally carry a clear meaning and do not require case inflections.

In Bulgarian there are six vowel phonemes and 21 consonants (although some phoneticians claim that palatal consonants should be considered allophones, reducing the number to 8 distinct sounds). Bulgarian has an alphabet of letters with no diacritics, but does use palatalisation to distinguish some sibilant sounds. There are six tenses in Bulgarian: present, past, future, imperative, conditional, subjunctive and the renarrative mood.

As with most Slavic languages, the word order in Bulgarian is Subject-Verb-Object. However, the verb form of a verb is often determined by its aspect and/or tense. In addition, there are four verbal conjugations: imperfective, perfective, gerund and the auxiliary verb kojati (which is used in both indicative and imperative). It is important to stress that the Bulgarian language is very lexically rich, with a large vocabulary of nouns, adjectives and adverbs, but also with a wide range of grammatical and syntactical rules.