Despite being a relatively small country, bulgaria has a rich culture with many interesting traditions and a dynamic lifestyle. Bulgarians have a strong family orientated society that gives honour and respect to elders in the community. This can be seen in the way they are greeted, accorded titles, or served the best food at the table. This type of culture also carries over to the workplace where the oldest members of a team are treated with respect and are given priority in meetings.
Traditionally, the language of bulgaria was written using the Cyrillic alphabet but since the end of communism, the standardised Latin script has been used. Regardless of the type of writing system used, the language is unique and has a very distinct sound. It has six vowels, and some phoneticians have reduced the number of consonants to 21 by counting the palatal consonants as allophones. This has been done to help make the language more accessible to foreign visitors and to increase its popularity abroad.
It’s important to remember that the bulgarian language is a Slavic one and therefore there are many similarities with other Slavic languages such as Russian, Serbian, and Czech. However, there are many distinct differences too. The language is an inflected one, and the verbs are divided into imperfective and perfective forms. Unlike the other Slavic languages, perfective verbs do not change meaning when they are converted to their imperfective form, but their lexical aspect does deviate in certain cases.
Bulgarian food is very diverse and there are dishes to suit almost any taste. The most popular meals are the hearty stews and soups such as taleshko vareno, which is a traditional beef and vegetable soup that is cooked for hours because of the tough cuts of meat used. It is seasoned with traditional spices and is extremely comforting for winter.
Another traditional dish is sarmi, which are stuffed vegetables that can be made with either pork or cabbage meat. The stuffing is usually rice, kashkaval (yellow cheese), and tomatoes but can vary depending on personal preference. The ingredients are then wrapped in either vine or cabbage leaves and steamed. Throughout the year, various holidays are celebrated with special dishes. Christmas Eve, for example, involves vegetarian stuffed peppers or cabbage dishes, while Nikulden (Day of St Nicholas, December 6) includes fish and Gergyovden (Day of St George, May 6) is celebrated with roast lamb.
Throughout history, bulgarians have contributed much to the world in areas of science, technology, and the arts. For example, the inventor John Atanasoff was of bulgarian descent, and he is widely recognized as the founder of computer programming. In terms of music, famous bulgarian opera singers include Raina Kabaivanska and Ghena Dimitrova. Other famous artists who hail from the country are Boris Christoff, Georgi Dimitrov, and Nicolai Ghiaurov. The majority of bulgarians are Christians with the most prominent denomination being the Eastern Orthodox Church. There are also a small number of Roman Catholics and Protestants in the country.