If you're planning a trip to Bulgaria, you should know when it marks holidays and a bit about those celebrations. If you're there on a holiday, you are an eyewitness to the country's culture, history, and personality, and that adds an interesting dimension to your visit. But you should also be aware that on national and religious holidays, public institutions, shops, and restaurants might be closed.
January 1: New Year's Day
Bulgaria rings in the New Year with the rest of the world on January 1. If you're in Sofia, the capital, head to Batenburg Square, where annual performances are held in honor of this holiday.
March 1: Baba Marta
Baba Marta, or Grandmother March, is marked by the giving of red and white Martenitsa—red and white tassels that are handmade or sold by street vendors. The colors symbolize blood and snow, and Bulgarians put these tassels on their clothing to ensure good health and prosperity.
March 3: Liberation of Bulgaria Day
Liberation of Bulgaria Day celebrates the establishment of the Bulgarian state in 1878. This holiday, like other similar ones in different countries around the world, is marked with public ceremonies.
Spring: Easter Sunday and Monday
Easter is an important holiday in Bulgaria. Traditional foods are prepared and eaten, and eggs are dyed. These dyed eggs are oftentimes colored red, which is a custom for Bulgarian Easter. Cracking eggs as a family together is a common tradition that is said to predict coming wealth and success.
May 1: Labor Day
Bulgaria's Labor Day has been celebrated since the middle of the 20th century and is marked as a day of rest.
May 24: Day of Slavonic Education and Culture
This day is also known as the Day of Slavonic Alphabet and Culture and the Saints Cyril and Methodius Day. This unusual holiday celebrates the Cyrillic alphabet and its developers, Cyril and Methodius. In the ninth century, these two Greek monks created the Cyrillic alphabet, a form of which is still in use today in Bulgaria.
September 6: Unification Day
This day celebrates the unification of Bulgaria with the province of Eastern Rumelia in the 19th century. The unification almost doubled Bulgaria's size. As with other national holidays dealing with borders and origin, the day is honored with public ceremonies.
September 22: Independence Day
Bulgaria celebrates its independence from the Ottoman Empire with ceremonies marking this important event. Bulgaria became independent on Sept. 22, 1908, not long before World War I.
December 24, 25, and 26: Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Second Day of Christmas
Christmas in Bulgaria is celebrated over three days: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Dec. 26, which is considered the second day of Christmas. Christmas Day dinner is traditionally a huge feast that features a main dish of meat. Families follow Christmas customs and indulge in traditional foods on this long winter holiday.