Folk Customs and Holidays

Bulgarians became Christians in the year 865. Their faith is Eastern Orthodox, and they maintain many of the traditional holidays of the Orthodox Church. Their customs include both Christian traditions and those from their original, non-Christian culture. For example, on Christmas Eve Bulgarians burn wood in their fireplaces. This wood is supposed to burn all night long. Bulgarians believe that this symbolizes their desire for a long life. At the same time, Bulgarians celebrate Christmas with a midnight mass at the church.

For New Year’s day children in Bulgaria walk from house to house holding small tree branches decorated with flowers, popcorn, and small bagels. They tap adults on the back or shoulders and recite a small poem wishing for good health, wealth, and success during the new year. In return, the adults give the children candy or other treats.

Another Bulgarian tradition is called Martenitsi. Bulgarians consider the beginning of spring to be March 1. During the whole month of March, Bulgarians wear small red and white tassels on their clothing. These tassels are supposed to bring good health. On the last day of the month, Bulgarians attach the tassels to a tree.