The Bulgarians


The Bulgarian gestures for “Yes” and “No” often confuse people from other countries. Shaking your head from side to side indicates “Yes” and an Up and down movement means “No”. “No” is also expressed with a sudden downward jerk of the head and a clicking sound made with the mouth.  Many children use this method.

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.

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:

25 November – Celebration of Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski

8 December – Official holiday of Bulgarian students