Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bulgaria’s “Non-Holiday” Holidays

This past week Bulgaria celebrated its Independence Day. As this fell on a Tuesday, the government decided on a long weekend, making Monday a “bridge” day. As we saw before, this “bridge” day had to be returned to the workplace, and as a result, this Saturday was a regular work day for most Bulgarians.

Having grown up in the U.S. and lived in Israel since I was a teenager, I was eager to find out how Bulgarians celebrate Independence Day. Would they have parades? BBQs? Fireworks? Would there be huge, televised ceremonies as in Israel?

Well, I have to admit that I was disappointed. It seems that there is no real tradition for celebrating Independence Day. The city of Sofia emptied out as people headed “home” to their families in smaller towns in other parts of the country, or else, just stayed at home and relaxed.

Everyone that I asked about their traditions for celebrating, told me that there aren’t any. Apparently there are some celebrations in the town of Veliko Turnovo, which was the ancient capitol of Bulgaria before Ottoman rule, but that seems to be the extent of it.

We witnessed this in a few other national holidays, like Unification Day, which was at the beginning of the month, and marked the unification of different sections of Bulgaria. Again, there didn’t seem to be anything special to mark this day. And the previous week, the city of Sofia celebrated a holiday for the city and St. Sofia, but it was no different from any other day. We’ve heard that Christmas and New Years are the big celebrations here is Bulgaria, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Bulgarians: Wake up and learn how to party and celebrate your holidays! And, Happy Independence Day!

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