Ancient traditions and customs of Bulgaria

In this article you will get to read about the traditions and customs of the Bulgarians, which consists their national costume, food, how they deal with tourists and many others.

The first thing, that immediately struck us was the very friendly and warm attitude of the locals. The Bulgarians always try to help, to ask what pleases one and what does not, or even to make some gift.

Meals and treat from Bulgarians

Sometimes, in a hotel you can eat a piece of bread with salt. It is necessary to break off a piece, dip it in salt and then drink a red wine. The red color in Bulgaria symbolizes health and prosperity.

Bulgarian food consists of fresh fruits and vegetables which are present in a lot of their meals. According to many people, these dishes promote longevity. Breakfast is usually light, consisting of milk and sweet bun. Lunch usually hearty, consisting of vegetables or meat, and the same type of meals pretty much goes during dinner. You can find both traditional Bulgarian food and global and modern cuisine at several local restaurants and taverns. Fast food places are also common.

See our separate article about food in Bulgaria: Food in Bulgaria (Nessebar) – food prices.

Bulgarian customs and traditions
Bulgarian folk costume

Bulgarian national costume

Bulgarians wear common clothing like other Westerners do, but on holidays people dress up with their traditional costumes. They may vary slightly depending on the region..

Women in the town of Kazanlak (in the middle of the country) usually wear dark woolen sarafan with an embroidered neckline, a long white shirt, a multicolored belt and an apron of vivid colors. Shoes are made of rawhide and under them are woolen stockings with patterns. The headdress consists of a monotonous headscarf made of silk, that is tied on a crown while the left side of a head can be decorated with living flower.

In Kyustendil women’s clothing consists of hinged casement dress, which must have short sleeves (instead of sarafan).

Men traditionally wear white or yellow-brown costumes, which differ not only in a cut of trousers, but also in lots of other small details.

You can fully enjoy the splendor and diversity of national costumes of the Bulgarian people during International or important state events.

Traditions and customs of Bulgaria

All customs of the Bulgarian culture are connected with paganism and the worship of ancient gods, and on the other, are the result of the influence of Thracians, Greeks and Romans. These facts have left an indelible mark on the culture of the Bulgarian people and their traditions. In this article we will briefly list the main ones.


Bulgarians celebrate this holiday at the beginning of New Year. Children go from house to house in their district and lightly beat the house owners with a wooden stick of dogwood on the back. Often, it is decorated with all sorts of dried fruits or other small items. This is accompanied by the wishes of good health and a prosperous year. Owners of the house reward kids with goodies and small coins.

Todorovden, Tudoritsa

Another name of the holiday is “Horse Easter.” It is celebrated every 20th of February. According to legends, the festival was created for giving health to horses and to young people, who got married on the eve of winter.

On this day, women bake a special bread – a round loaf in the form of glorified animal or a horseshoe. Afterwards, they feed horses and young women with this bread, to make them not only healthy, but also fertile.

The highlight of this day is considered a traditional horse racing, after which the winner arranges a round dance in the village square. At the end of the festival all participants go to his house for the continuation of fun.


It is a kind of carnival which symbolizes the coming of spring. Each man who participates in this carnival makes his own terrifying mask, which is decorated with various beads and bows, or paints his face in black. During the ritual, is performed a special dance, through which evil spirits are banished. Kukersky carnival takes place during Maslenitsa.

Fire Dance

This is an old Bulgarian custom, which usually performs during the celebration of Saints Constantine and Helena (21 of May). Its essence is to perform a special ritual dance on hot coals for the expulsion of diseases. Trained people all day are in a closed chapel in front of icons of Saints Constantine and Helena. Not everyone is good for this honorary role. Those who can do this dance can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. Surprisingly, people who do this dance do not get burned.

The Festival of Rose

Rose for Bulgaria is a truly royal flower. Not surprisingly, a beautiful holiday is held for celebrating this flower, accompanied by songs, dances, choice of Queen of Roses and final fireworks.

This festival takes place on the first Saturday and Sunday of June, when roses bloom throughout the valley, and the aroma is all around.

Commemoration of the deceased

Together with joyful traditions, we can also note more somber ones, which are connected with the remembrance of the deceased.

Bulgarians are very careful to the memory of their ancestors. Up to the modern times, Bulgarians have preserved a custom to commemorate the deceased collectively.

At almost any house or gates of Nessebar you can see affixed small posters, in which the date is reported.

The cult of celebration

Locals very much like to arrange mass celebrations. Having gathered outdoors, the Bulgarians set a sumptuous table and organize various competitions with prizes. When night falls, they light fires and sing songs until morning.


Of course, this article is not a complete list of the rich cultural heritage of Bulgarians. We have indicated only the most interesting tradition and customs, in our opinion. In addition, there are many beautiful weddings and family traditions.

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