The Culture of Bulgaria

Despite their long history of foreign rule and internal upheavals Bulgarians have maintained a strong sense of identity that has been captured in the arts, especially poetry, music, rituals and costumes. The church has also played a key role in this, acting as the default support system under both Ottoman and Communist rule. Upon the collapse of the Communist regime the church experienced a revival with religious holidays being reintroduced and baptisms returning to popularity.

One of the most significant characteristics of bulgarian culture is a focus on family. The family is the core of society and it is not uncommon for several generations to live under the same roof, with a close network of mutual assistance and support between relatives. This societal structure explains the strong sense of tradition that Bulgarians have, with legends and folklore playing an important role in daily life.

The bulgarian cuisine is rich and hearty with stews, soups and fresh salads being staples. The country’s geographical position means that it has a great diversity in the foods on offer with many different types of fruit and vegetables available throughout the year.

A typical meal will start with a few salads and dips followed by a main course and then a dessert. Some of the most famous dishes include banitsa (Bulgarian white cheese and pastry), katuk (goat cheese mixed with sheep milk and seasoned with grilled pepper and walnuts), lyutenitsa (roasted tomato and red pepper sauce or dip) and skembe chorba (a veal, pork and lamb tripe soup).

The food choices are varied but Bulgarians are big on yogurt, making it a staple in their diets. Yogurt is usually eaten with a little bit of sugar and is often served chilled. Another popular drink is kefir, which is a thick fermented yogurt with a mild tangy taste. It is sometimes sweetened with honey and is a favourite among children.

When interacting with Bulgarians it is important to remember that they are still a fairly formal society, so initial greetings should be warm but reserved. Addressing people with their titles followed by their surname is common, but only very close friends and family members become more informal. It is important to wait for your Bulgarian counterparts to determine when it is appropriate to become more casual.

Gift giving is a very important part of Bulgarian culture. If you are invited to a Bulgarian’s home for dinner, you should bring a small gift. The amount of the gift is not as important as the thought behind it. When choosing a present, avoid chrysanthemums, lilies and gladiolas as they are traditionally used for funerals.

The best way to experience Bulgarian culture is by visiting the country, meeting the people and learning about their customs. With the right preparation and understanding, a trip to Bulgaria will be both enjoyable and rewarding. If you would like to learn more about this beautiful country and its culture, then please contact us.