Coming from a small country can sometimes be frustrating. The answer of the most natural question when I first meet someone – Where do you come from? – can lead to all kind of awkward situations. The reactions following my “I’m from Bulgaria” depend mostly of how far I am from my homeland and includes replies such as:
- I was in Budapest last year
- So you speak cyrillic, right?
- Do you have dogs, cinemas, roads, internet there?
- In which country is Bulgaria?
I absolutely get it that unless you live in the southeastern corner of Europe, you probably haven’t heard much about Bulgaria. That’s why I decided to share some interesting facts that you might not know.
- Founded in 681, Bulgaria is the oldest country in Europe that hasn’t changed its name since then.
- The country is one of the world’s biggest producers of wine with thousands-year-old winemaking traditions. The grape drink is so widespread that it even flows freely from the drinking fountains.
- Bulgarians shake their heads for approval and nod for no. In order to avoid confusing situations it is always a good idea to ask for a verbal confirmation.
- Bulgaria is the homeland of yogurt that dates back to 4000 B.C. Since ancient times it has been considered a food that sustains the human health and life longevity. The main bacteria, responsible for the fermentation, is called lactobacillus bulgaricus, which rather strangely seems to be present in natural conditions only on Bulgaria.
- Some archeologists assume that the number of archaeological sites is the third-largest in Europe after Italy and Greece.
- On the 1st of March Bulgarians exchange Martenitsa – a small adornment made of white and red yarn, usually in the form of two dolls – a male and a female. The colors are associated with purity, health and fertility and it is our way to celebrate the upcoming spring. We should wear it until we see a blossoming tree or a stork.
- Bulgaria produces about 70% of all rose oil in the world which is largely used in the fragrances industry.
- The Bulgarian folk song Izlel e Delio haidutin ( Delio rebel has come out ) is travelling right now in the interstellar space on board of two Voygaer spacecrafts – the Earth’s most distant emmisaries. It is nice to know that, if intercepted by alien civilizations, Bulgarian music will become space famous!
- Bulgaria is one of the richest lands of spas and wellness spots in Europe with more than 800 mineral springs.
- Folk dancing is still a popular entertainment activity among Bulgarians on weddings, country fairs and festivals.
- The menu in most of the restaurants will show the weight of the serving portions which will give you a good idea about the size of the dish.
- Mark Zuckerberg, John Atanasoff ( the inventor of the first electronic digital computer ) and Nina Dobrev ( the actress ) have one common denominator – they all have Bulgarian origins.