Christmas in Bulgaria
Looking to spend the festive season in a winter wonderland on the ski slopes and celebrate with the locals? Well, if you didn’t know Bulgaria is an orthodox country so you would traditionally expect them to celebrate Christmas on January the 7th but don’t worry, owing to the city following the Gregorian calendar, Christmas is celebrated on the 25th so you can expect all the trimmings and fabulous lights and decorations throughout.
Bulgarians love Christmas and fully embrace all the festivities during the winter season. Eastern Europe generally is known for its quirky traditions and beautiful markets. The Sofia Christmas Market, called Kolidariya, or Koledaria, offers mulled wine, gingerbreads, sweets, wooden toys and other festive food and drink. You’ll leave smiling and full! It’s held in the park Borisova Gradina. The Sofia Christmas Market runs from the end of November to the beginning of January. The kids will love it owing to the many children’s shows and games, plus the opportunity to have a portrait taken with Santa.
Bulgarian Christmas Eve
Bulgaria’s Christmas Eve is celebrated with a vegan meal consisting of a number of dishes which follows the forty-day Advent fast. The feast is based on really strong flavours and predominantly dried fruits and nuts. There are an odd number of dishes – normally seven (the number of gods) or 9 (months of labour)
Walnuts are important and a part of this feast. The number of good and bad walnuts that are cracked and found will indicate whether a good or bad year is coming up. Much like our traditional Christmas puddings containing a lucky piece of silver, Bulgarians bake bread with a coin inside. The person who finds the coin will be rewarded with good fortune.
The Christmas Eve dinner table may not be cleared until the next morning to provide sustenance for the ghosts of ancestors who may come back to visit before Christmas morning.
Bulgarians believe that Mary gave birth to baby Jesus on Christmas eve and chose to announce it the day after. It is because of this many women and Bulgaria still chooses to keep a baby’s birth quiet until the following day.
Bulgarian Christmas Day
Christmas dinner is not vegan and normally consists of a cheese/pork/poultry. It’s a big celebration and signifies the end of the fast. Families get together and enjoy each others company.
On Christmas day groups of young men travel house to house caroling and are rewarded with pretzels. You’ll see lots of this in Borovetz as caroling is really popular
A few places offer Christmas dinner in Borovets – either traditional English Christmas at Bobby’s or Alpin or something more traditional with Happy Duck or Hripa. The choice is endless and don’t worry, you won’t be paying inflated prices for this.