Why is the Cyrillic Alphabet so important? The writing stays forever, the words fly away, said a Latin philosopher and he could not have been more right. Today we cherish the fruits of the strenuous efforts of our ancestors by using the alphabets they created. This is the story of the Cyrillic Alphabet- the fifth most used alphabet in the world with over 220 million people enjoying its letters every day.
There is another theory though, which has not penetrated the history books yet. Not until long ago historians thought the thracian tribes that lived on the Balkans did not have an alphabet. Most of the information we have of them is from Greek sources. This myth should be considered debunked, however, as a lot of stone inscriptions started emerging, proving that there was a writing system on these lands long before Cyril and Methodius came along. This shows that the brothers could have simply made a compilation of all the old records.
This also proves why the Bulgarian language differs grammatically from all other Slavic languages. For instance, we do not have cases and the articles (“the”) are put at the end of the words. While the church used and uses to this day the original Slavic version, the ordinary folk did not, primarily because the Bulgarian nation included Thracian, Slavic and Bulgarian tribes, each with its own specificities.
Another myth should also be dispensed with that of the Cyrillic Alphabet being Russian. In the 15th century after the Ottoman empire had taken over the Bulgarian state a great deal of the church books were sent north to Russia, which is why they adopted the Cyrillic Alphabet as their own. So if you were also under the veil of the misconception that the alphabet was Russian-made, now you know that it is not 🙂
Today we celebrate the Cyrillic Alphabet on the 24th May with a lot of church and school festivities. It is considered by many to be one of the most Bulgarian holidays. There is proof it has been celebrated since the 12th century. Its commemoration was revived in Plovdiv in 1851 when one Bulgarian writer organized a parade. This holiday played an enormous role in the fight for an independent Bulgarian church. Nowadays it’s celebrated all over the world by the Bulgarian diaspora and in other countries using the alphabet.
Here is a short video of how the processions are held and the official song of the holiday: