January 6, 2020

St. Jordan’s Day or Epiphany

Whether you have heard about St. Jordan’s Day or its ecclesiastical name Epiphan, it means one and the same day and holiday. There is evidence proving that the holiday was celebrated even as early as the 2nd century AD. Actually, until the 4th century AD St. Jordan’s Day coincided with Christmas so Epiphany appeared to be the collective name of the two feasts. According to the Orthodox church According to the Orthodox calendar, St. Jordan’s Day commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ from St. John the Baptist. Later, the Church decided to separate the holidays and since then the 25th December is known as Christmas and Epiphany is celebrated on the 6th of January. Traditions in Bulgaria In Bulgaria, there is a long-lived tradition related to the date of the 6th of January. Usually, on St. Jordan’s Day, a ceremonial throw of a cross from the local church takes place. The ritual is put into practice wherever a water basin is available. Once the cross is thrown, men jump into the water […]
December 24, 2019

Christmas and New Year’s Eve traditions in Bulgaria

Family dinners, gifts and lots of snow. This is what Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations are usually associated with. But just like every other nation, we, Bulgarians, have some specific Christmas and New Year’s Eve traditions. Here’s a deeper look into a few of the most popular ones! Christmas Bread and New Year’s Eve banitsa Christmas bread As you will see in one of the next paragraphs, Bulgarians have many traditional holiday meals. However, two of them are much than just food on the table – the Christmas bread and the banitsa on New Year’s Eve. Both of them are connected to entire rituals, which determine the fortune of everyone around the table. Perhaps the most awaited moment during Christmas Eve dinner is the breaking of the specially decorated Christmas bread. Not only because it’s super tasty – but there is also a treasure, hidden within. Every year the matriarch of the family puts a coin, wrapped in tinfoil within the dough. It is believed that whoever finds the […]
December 3, 2019

Gifts and souvenirs from… our tourists?

It’s December – the last month in the calendar and the end of the current year. Time to think back and see if we are happy with the last twelve months we had and what are we thankful for. Furthermore, it is time to look in the future and make some resolutions and promises to ourselves. December is also the time to give others the most precious gifts – give them joy, happiness and gratitude for having them by your side. The Christmas Holidays have one great power over religious and non-religious people – they remind everybody about the joy of giving. The joy of making others happy. It’s up to you whether you are going to achieve that by charity, spending merry time with beloved people or by giving presents. Gifts from tourist But what do walking tours have to do with gifts? Surprisingly – a lot. Isn’t that the best thing about traveling and meeting new people from all over the world – enriching ourselves and others? And […]
October 23, 2019

Drinking coffee in Plovdiv – a special ritual

For every true Plovdivian the day begins with a good cup of coffee. Furthermore, the refreshing beverage is considered a must-drink for every guest of our city too. Although nowadays drinking coffee is so popular all over the world, not many people actually know where it comes from. History and origins It all began in the old Islamic world. In the 15 and 16 centuries, the Sufi followers in Yemen started drinking coffee. Soon everyone from Mecca to Cairo would do so. It is believed to originate from Ethiopia. For the first time, people there realized they could use the coffee beans. Eventually, in the entire Arabic Peninsula, parts of India, all of the Ottoman Empire and even the Balkans people realized the magical effect and amazing taste of the coffee. A special ritual in Bulgaria In Bulgarian lands, it was introduced during the Ottoman rule, exactly in the time frame mentioned above. Coffee has always had a socializing effect on people. You would not just drink it while you […]
October 22, 2019

Cycling in Plovdiv: a Basic Guide

What is cycling and why should we do it? And is cycling in Plovdiv a good idea? Tackling the question of ‘why’ is the most important in any new discipline. There are many reasons why you should ride your bike, and the first of them is purely egoistical: For yourself! It’s an easy, low-impact form of exercise that is time-efficient, good for strength and stamina and fun! Replacing your automobile with a bicycle for your daily commute is one of the best decisions you can make, and you will soon see changes in yourself. You’ll burn more calories and get leaner, and benefit from improved mental focus. Also, you’ll arrive at meetings happier and more energized from the exercise you just did. It’s also good for cities, making them more people-friendly and quiet, as one more cyclist is one less automobile on the road. Furthermore, last but not least, it’s eco-friendly, not producing any emissions. Just the presence of a cyclist passing by cars in a traffic jam gets people […]
September 22, 2019
Bulgaria's Independence Day

Bulgaria’s Independence Day

One of the most confusing facts about Bulgarian history is that we have a Liberation Day (our biggest national holiday, celebrated on the 3rd of March) and Independence Day (celebrated on the 22nd of September)… and these are two completely different things! In this blog post we will try to make it clear what the difference is. Also, why is the 22nd of September a significant date in our history. Liberation Day The contemporary Bulgarian state appeared on the map in 1878. It was a result of a war between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. The Russians won that war. The preliminary ceasefire was signed on the 3rd of March at San Stefano (nowadays a suburb of Istanbul under the name of Yeshilkoy). According to its provisions, a fully independent Bulgarian state was to be formed. The Bulgarian territory was supposed to include almost 170 000 sq. It included many regions, which are nowadays in Greece, Northern Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia. These provisions, however, never became a reality. The […]
September 17, 2019

Bulgarian superstitions and curious traditions

A black cat crossing your path or walking under a ladder. Knocking on wood. Friday the 13th. These are all among the „classics“ of superstition all over the world. But did you know that Bulgarians have a number of superstitions, which aren’t that common in other countries? Some of them have roots in pre-Christian rituals. Others are so old that no one knows how they came to be anymore. But all of them are quite bizarre. Here you can take a deeper look into four of the most interesting and curious ones! The charm of the chimney sweep Cleaning chimneys usually involves getting one’s clothes all black and dirty. Therefore, it is understandable why most people wouldn’t want to shake hands with a chimney sweep after a hard day’s work. This isn’t the case in Bulgaria. Because according to one of the country’s most popular superstitions touching a chimney sweep and getting soot on your hands will bring a person good fortune for the rest of the day. Of course, […]
August 14, 2019

Matera – the sister European Cultural Capital of Plovdiv

What is a European Cultural Capital? You probably have heard about the title European Cultural Capital. But who had the idea of such a title on the first place? On a windy January day of 1985, two ministers of culture were having coffee at the Athens airport. They were waiting for their delayed flights. Those were Melina Mercouri from Greece and her French colleague Jack Lang. They had just attended a meeting of European ministers of culture. What a shame, they thought, that there are so few cultural events to bring nations together! According to a popular lore, this is how Ms. Mercouri came up with the idea of creating an annual series of events. They would not only put the spotlight on culture in European cities but also unite Europeans by showing them how much they have in common. Now, more than three decades later, the European Cultural Capital is perhaps the largest collaborative cultural project in the European Union. Two, sometimes three cities from different countries are awarded […]
July 31, 2019

Cats of Plovdiv

Plovdiv is a very ancient town with lots of history and traditions. If you are already familiar with the city you probably know what is symbolic for it – the Old Town, the hills, the Revival Houses, The Maritsa river, Ancient theater … The hills and the river are even on the coat of arms of the city. But nowadays there is one more symbol you can see everywhere. The Cats of Plovdiv. Cats as a symbol Yes, cats. Many visitors notice that we have many cats in the town and they are so loved that we even have them on souvenirs. The felines can be found on badges, bags, t-shirts and so on. We even have them as a part of our Arts and Crafts Tour. But how did that happen? In the past Plovdiv was an important trading center in the Ottoman empire. Have you been to Turkey? Did you see all the houses for stray kitties and the food people provide for them? It is said that […]