Bulgarian Christmas Traditions
Christmas is a very important time of year for us in Bulgaria, with lots of traditions to be followed. Based here in beautiful Sofia, Bulgaria, we’re proud to embrace a number of unique Christmas traditions! Christmas is one of the most loved holidays here in Bulgaria and a time when families get together to both celebrate the holiday, and the religious message behind it. Despite most Bulgarians are Eastern Orthodox, we follow the Gregorian calendar which means Christmas is celebrated on December 25th.
Christmas lasts 3 days!
Starting on the 25th, when we believe Jesus Christ was born. Тhe following two days, we honour the people who carry the names Hristo, Hristina and Joseph (Josif) on the 26th and people with the names Stefan, Stoyan, Stefka on the 27th.
On Christmas Eve, we eat only an odd number of vegan dishes (just like during the fasts). Some of the foods we enjoy are grape leaves stuffed with rice, pumpkin dishes and stuffed peppers. These are usually accompanied by traditional bread that contains fortunes, to reveal what the next year holds for each family member. After dinner is finished, we leave the dishes on the table all night!
After Dinner Koleduvane
Koleduvane is a Christmas eve ritual, which happens at midnight. After it’s finished, we know that Christmas is here and Jesus Christ has been born. In Koleduvane, only young boys and unmarried men take part, called the Koledari. They gather in the house of the man leading the group, dressed in traditional attire. Once they’ve gathered together, they go from house to house singing Christmas carols. The rituals they perform all aim to bring the family they visit longevity, health, prosperity, and luck. They typically have a song for each member of the family – the head of the home, his wife, small children, unmarried girls and boys, etc. There are even songs dedicated to the household’s animals – cows, goats, sheep, etc.!
To finish off the festive season, our final tradition of the year is survakane on New Year’s Day, which is essentially children beating adults on the back with elaborately decorated sticks (lightly, of course!). This, alongside incantations, are said to bring good luck to the adult in the New Year. Though the ritual varies from region to region, survakane is popular throughout Bulgaria. The stick, named a survachka or survaknitsa, is always made of a cornel branch adorned with yarn, wool, dried fruit, beads and other small items.
As you can see, we take Christmas pretty seriously here in Bulgaria and we’re proud of our rich culture and traditions! So from us at TransGlobe International, we hope you had a fantastic Christmas and we wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019.