Bulgaria Facts, Fictions and Oddities
We’ve been spending much more time in Bulgaria than we’d originally planned, due to life getting in the way as it sometimes does. We’ve found it much more friendly this time around, and in honor of our friends’ patience (thanks Deni!) we’ve decided to compile a list of all unusual facts that happen to be Bulgarian:
Dan Kolov, a world-record wrestler who only lost twice (and won 1,500 times, mind you) is a point of Bulgarian pride.
Ivan Mitev is the doctor who discovered the 6th tone in the heart, which is pretty important.
Spartacus was born in Bulgaria.
Cyril & Methodius, designers of the Cyrillic alphabet in the 9th century, spread their terribly complex writing system from Bulgaria to many other Slavic countries, including Russia.
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame’s grandfather emigrated from Bulgaria to the States in 1940.
John Atanasoff (with Clifford Berry) is credited with creating the first computer.
An Eastern European Outback
Bulgaria has some crazy cool geography and is truly quite beautiful. 1/3 of it is forests; 4,000 caves; 300 waterfalls; 600 mineral springs (Velingrad has more than 70 alone); and 40+ mountains. It’s actually shocking how little attention Bulgaria gets from the tourist trade, considering it’s ideal for climbers, skiers and beach bunnies.
Bulgarian History Stuffs
It’s the only European country that has kept its name since it was established (681 A.D.). Sofia, the capital, was founded 7,000 years ago. The first wine of the world has been traced back to the later Stone Age in Bulgaria, and many of the 15,000 Thracian tombs that have been discovered aren’t fully explored yet.
They used to have bison, but they disappeared in the Middle Ages. Then an enterprising fellow purchased a couple and there’s now a bison reserve in Razgrad.
The ‘Bulgar Calendar’ is said to be the most accurate historical calendar by UNESCO.
Special Holidays in Bulgaria
In some villages on January 1, really early in the morning, men dress up in goat-fur costumes with sheep bells and masks. They go from house to house and receive small gifts like eggs, and the costumes are to scare away the evil spirits for the year.
February 14th is Valentine’s Day, but more importantly to Bulgarians it’s St.Trifon the Pruner’s Day. He was the patron saint of winemakers, and it should be no surprise that ‘the more wine that flows the better the harvest will be.’
The White Brothers is a type of spring to autumn celebration with everyone in white and doing song and dance (PanEuRhythmy) in certain areas of Bulgaria. There’s also Baba Marta the 1st of March, where bracelets of red and white are exchanged. It’s especially good luck to see a blossoming tree or a stork. The bracelets get tied around trees.
Easter has two interesting aspects: at 12 midnight, carrying a candle and walking around the outside of the church is important for Orthodox believers. The total times your candle needs to be relit equals your sins for the year.
Another tradition is to grab a colored egg at a signal (a church bell, for example) and hit it against someone else’s egg. The last to have the most whole egg ‘wins.’
Some Last Odd Bulgarian Bits
Bulgaria facts might be included in the Guinness Book of World Records for having a socialist president AND a prime minister who was born a king- simultaneously.
Sofia has 33 days of fog in an average year; the record goes to Plovdiv, however, for having 28 straight days of fog.
Bulgarian superstitions include: not wearing 2 socks means you’ll become orphaned; dreams come true on Wednesdays; and if you see a dead animal you should hold your hair until you see a live bird.
Holding your thumb between your ring and middle finger is an obscene gesture in Bulgaria.
If Americans lived in Bulgaria, they would: earn 72% less BUT spend 88% less on health care and they’d also have 2% more chance of being employed than in the States.
Bulgaria has recently teamed up with Romania for the ‘vampire tourism’ trade.
So there you have it, our facts and strange things about Bulgaria. What about you, anything to add? Let us know in the comments below.
From Sofia with Love, A&M