Traditions and culture

The Bulgarian culture has the incredible ability to bind people together. Various ethnic communities have coexisted on Bulgarian territory for centuries. This has taught Bulgarians to accept others, no matter if the difference is about religion or in culture. Bulgarians have always been open to the world and this is due to both geopolitical and historic reasons. Bulgarian culture has been receptive to new ideas and influences and the traditions reflect our basic values of tolerance, accepting other cultures and rejecting racism, xenophobia and antisemitism.

This is clearly evident from the way Bulgarians celebrate holidays such as Epiphany (Iordanovden), Baba Marta, St George's Day etc. It is also reflected in traditional crafts such as the Chiprovtsi carpets, lace from Kalofer, cabochons from Tryavna.

Bulgarian folklore

The Bulgarian folklore is also closely related to the cultural development of Bulgarians and to the traditions of other Balkan people. It combines elements from the culture of ancient Thracians, Slavic and proto-Bulgarian traditions. The Bulgarian traditions were strongly influenced by the adoption of Christianity and the establishment of the Bulgarian script.

The Bulgarian music is very impressive with its harmonies, rhythm and dynamics. The most distinctive features of Bulgarian folk music are biphonic singing (Dvuglas) and asymmetrical meters (uneven beats). They are unknown to Western music and that is why Bela Bartok calls them "Bulgarian beats". Some of the most famous traditional dances, such as rachenitsa, Elenino and Daichovo horo are in asymmetrical meter (uneven beat).

The Bulgarian spoken folklore in its variety amazes with the richness of messages and artistic styles and the diversity of forms – from fairytales to proverbs and fables. Bulgarian fairytales and legends reveal a specific perception of the world based on ancient myths and symbols and affirming universal values, such as fairness and honesty, respect of family and community, hard work and mutual help.

Cultural heritage

The coexistence of different peoples and the intertwining of their cultures has turned our country into a real treasure box. Nearly 40,000 cultural heritage sites are under the protection of the Cultural Heritage Act. 33 of them are archaeological reservation areas, 15,000 archaeological sites and 25,000 buildings and monuments of architectural and historic value.

There are 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bulgaria, seven of which are cultural heritage sites and three of which are natural sites. The cultural ones are: Rila Monastery, Thracian tomb of Kazanlak, the rock carving Madara horseman, Thracian tomb of Sveshtari, rock churches of Ivanovo, the old Nessebar and Boyana church. The natural ones are: Pirin National park, Central Balkan National park and Srebarna Nature Reserve.

Bulgarian museums and galleries preserve over 7,360,000 artefacts, among them the world-famous Panagyurishte gold treasure.

The Bulgarian folk song Izlel e Delyo Haidutin, sung by Valya Balkanska, is travelling in space. Many Bulgarian singers perform at world opera stages. Musicians, artists, sculptors, architects, designers, actors contribute to world culture across the globe.

The content of this article is prepared with the assistance of the Ministry of Culture and the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore with Ethnographic museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.              

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