UncategorizedBulgarian Steps – Bulgarian Folklore, Dances and Traditions

June 15, 2020by Bulgarian Steps0
Bulgarian Steps Classes

Bulgarian folklore, like the folklore of most countries, can be traced all the way back to the “ancient” times. It is an amalgamation of ancient beliefs and Christian theology, topped off with a pinch of “modern era” ideas. As all “folklore”, it changed as our people did. It evolved into what our people needed at the given period time. It did its part in preserving Bulgarians as a culture and a nation. 

An Introduction to …

Bulgarian folklore, like the folklore of most countries, can be traced all the way back to the “ancient” times. It is an amalgamation of ancient beliefs and Christian theology, topped off with a pinch of “modern era” ideas. As all “folklore”, it changed as our people did. It evolved into what our people needed at the given period time. It did its part in preserving Bulgarians as a culture and a nation. 

Hello everyone, and welcome to Bulgarian Steps very first blog post! Our website is dedicated to the preservation of Bulgarian Folk Dancing and the celebration of Bulgarian Folklore Traditions, and we’ll be posting articles, related to both subjects. Bulgarian folklore is unique and very interesting. Bulgarian myths and legends are a place where ancient myths meet Christian archetypes, witty heroes trick nasty rulers, and mighty champions defeat various types of dragons. But, seeing as how this is our very first post, we’re going to take things slow. We’ll talk about the nature of folklore in general, and we’ll cover some of the notable parts of what is known about Bulgarian folk beliefs. 

And now, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

The term “folklore” stands for the collective body of cultural traditions, rites, rituals, celebrations and habits, exhibited by a people. The word itself comes from the combination of “folk” and “lore”, meaning “the wisdom of the people”.

Generally, the folklore of a given group can be split into three separate types or “genres” – verbal, material and customary lore. 

In the “material” sense of things, folklore can relate to everything from outfits, toys and hairstyles, all the way to architecture. On the verbal side, it can be about speech patterns and specific sayings, to jokes, stories, myths, legends and songs. The custom aspect is probably the first thing that people think of when they hear “folklore” – traditional ways of performing specific actions, festivals, celebrations, rituals, and so on.  

As exciting as they are, most aspects of traditional folklore can seem somewhat redundant from a modern perspective. And indeed, a large portion of the traditional stories, myths, legends and customs are “way out there”. Most cultures had an abundance of rules and specific requirements, surrounding even the most mundane of everyday practices, for many of which there seems to be no practical explanation. Yet, even in the most far-fetched and mystical of stories, there is a grain of truth or some type of wisdom that we can extract. And, more often than not, it’s something straightforward, practical and down-to-earth, even though we’re applying it hundreds (or sometimes even thousands) of years later. Remember – science shows no significant changes in the average brain size or volume in the last few thousand years. Our ancestors weren’t really much “dumber” than us. They just didn’t know as much! They didn’t have access to modern science, universities or the Internet. They had to make do with what they understood and explain it in an interesting and memorable way.

Furthermore, a lot of them couldn’t (or, depending on the location and period – didn’t want to) write down this “folk wisdom”. And so, it was transmitted primarily through word-of-mouth. But no matter how passionate or dedicated one is, there’s no way to prevent changes, additions or even misunderstandings with oral tradition. With every retelling, the folklore underwent slight alterations. Maybe the dragon was a bit bigger; maybe the champion was a bit smarter; perhaps the castle was actually a tower. This went on and on for hundreds of years, eventually resulting in the folklore that we have today.

Bulgarian Folklore 

Traces of the old beliefs and ancient customs can still be observed, even in the most “Christian” of holidays. Due to its nature of being an “outsider” religion, as in – not native to most of the regions it is currently practised in today, Christianity has had to make a lot of compromises. It has therefore incorporated a large number of the ancient traditions, some deities or concepts turned into saints, and many of them you see today churches today, stand on top of the sacred sites of old. In our particular case with Bulgaria, the most glaring examples would be the customs surrounding Saint George’s Day, Easter, the various traditions surrounding Lent, the Lazarus Saturday, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Other traditionally Bulgarian holidays include things like: the Bulgarian Christmas Eve Festivities, Koledari, Surva, Kukeri, Baba Marta (and the “martenici”, associated with it) and many, many more. 

Ironically, despite the fact that Bulgarian Folklore is widely recognised as beautiful, unique and exciting, there is very little professional research done on it. This is largely due to the fact that our traditions were preserved by word-of-mouth and there is very little physical evidence left to garner significant scientific interest. Furthermore, there is, of course, the funding matter – research of this type generally needs funding, and there are very few organisations, willing to invest in that matter. Then, there is also a completely natural notion to just “accept folklore for what it is” and enjoy it. Still, there are definitely a lot of things to learn from the subject.

All of this being said, our team is deeply fascinated with the history and culture of Bulgaria, and we’re going to do our best to present you with as detailed information as possible. We are doing throughout research on the various customs, ideas and notions, found in Bulgarian folklore, and we’ll frequently publish every little credible piece that we’re able to find. 

In closing, we’d like to remind you that everything you read on this blog is based on our team’s research. As it often happens with folklore and information, relying on word-of-mouth, we cannot guarantee for the “authenticity” of a story or custom, any more than the person who told us about it can. This being said, we are going to do our best to provide you with an “additional reading materials and interesting sources” section as soon as possible! 

We’d also want to thank you for taking the time to read this article! If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like on social media and share it with your friends and family so that they too can learn more about the wonders of Bulgarian Folklore! 

If you happen to have any interesting sources that you’d like us to have a look at, or if you’ve got some interesting questions, ideas or experiences of your own to share, please do not hesitate to let us know! 

You can leave us a note in the comments section below, send us an email, or drop us a message on Social Media.

Thank you all for reading, and we’ll see you next time! 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact us
196 Lancaster Road, London, EN2 0JH
Newsletter

Newsletter

© Bulgarian Steps 2020 | Terms | website by FOME

bt_bb_section_top_section_coverage_image
en_GB
bg_BG en_GB