Blog, Lifestyle

Christmas in Bulgaria: Traditions and customs

Hello friends,
For some time now, I had the idea to write about the traditions and the holidays we have in Bulgaria. A lot of people preserved the old traditions by sharing knowledge with their kids and younger people. This way the old customs are still part of each celebration in Bulgaria. Christmas is probably the most loved holiday among all Christians. At this time of the year, people are travelling thousands of miles to go home and be with their families.

Christmas Eve – 24th December

Christmas is the biggest family holiday in Bulgaria. We celebrate Christmas Eve on 24th December. The whole family is together for a vegetarian dinner because this is the end of 40-days Orthodox Christian fasting. Another interesting fact is the odd number of dishes on the Christmas Eve dinner – usually 5,7,9, etc.

Photo source: https://www.10te.bg/zhivotat/10-vkusni-idei-za-trapezata-na-badni-vecher/

Some of the most popular meals served on the table are white beans soup, cabbage and vine leave rolls, stuffed peppers with rice, a lot of salads, fruits and nuts as well. The most important for the dinner is the traditional homemade bread loaf called “pita”. People are putting a coin before baking of the bread in the oven. The oldest man in the house breaks a piece of the “pita” bread for each person on the table. Finding the coin will bring a lot of good luck to that person. Before the dinner begins, the oldest man is burning incense and all dishes and places in the house are incensed. After that people read a special pray and then start eating.

Photo source: http://purvite7.bg/pitkata-za-bdni-vecher/

Another interesting fact is that the food on the table has to be left over the night. According to the popular belief, the dead relatives will come to the dinner during the night.

Koleduvane (Christmas caroling)

Very unique for the Christmas traditions in Bulgaria are groups of young men called koledari. Only men take part in it – bachelors, fiancés and younger recently married men. They wear traditional Bulgarian clothes and
fur caps decorated with green bunches, holding multi-coloured sticks in their hands. Early in the Christmas morning, they visit homes in groups, always starting in eastern direction. The first house they are visiting is usually of the most prominent people in the village — the mayor, the priest or the teacher. The koledari carolers sing songs glorifying the owners and wishing good. The owners invite the young men at the table and treat them with rakia and wine, and then the damsel presents them with a ring-shaped bread called kolache.

Source: https://gabrovo.bg/bg/news-article/3968

Christmas dinner – 25th December

Later in the Christmas day, Bulgarians usually prepare a rich dinner for the closes friends and family members. The meals for the celebration are not vegetarian as on Christmas Eve and people are cooking traditionally with pork. The most popular meals for the Christmas dinner are pork chops, cabbage rolls with meat and rice, kapama, a lot of winter salads and potatoes. Desserts are seasonal and most of them we make with winter fruits which people have in their gardens. Typical desserts are such as baked pumpkin with honey and walnuts, banitsa with apples and Christmas cake with fruits. Nowadays, the influence from the west countries brings new meals on the Bulgarian Christmas dinner. As an example, some Bulgarians are cooking a roasted turkey for Christmas instead of the traditional pork for.

Source: arhivatora.com

Sharing the food and the beverages on the table are significant elements from the Bulgarian mentality. It is considered a way to show respect to the others. Therefore, it is not surprising that we celebrate most of the big holidays on the table with a lot of delicious food and good friends.

My dear friends, these are the most common Christmas traditions in Bulgaria. Every region has different customs for celebrating Christmas but I wanted to share with you the most popular. I hope you liked my idea to write about special holidays we have in Bulgaria and how we celebrate them. I am very proud of the Bulgarian heritage and traditions so I hope I can share with you a piece of our unique culture.


Greetings, Vyara

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