Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bulgaria: The [abbreviated] Basics -- Part One

:] Kak si?

When someone asks me where I am from, I have a 'typical answer' which goes something like, "I am Puerto Rican and Jamaican, but I was Bulgarian in a past life." If the person I'm speaking to isn't scared off by this point, it's usually a good sign that often gets me to talk more about Bulgaria to others who are interested as to why the heck 'someone like me' would be so into a country 'like that'.

The first question they usually ask is: Where is it?

Bulgaria is a small Balkan country bordering the 'Cherno More', or Black Sea. Her neighbors are Greece and Turkey (southward), Romania (in the north), Serbia and Macedonia (in the west).

Next, depending on who I am speaking to, I usually hear something about Russia or Communism.

Yes, Bulgaria has seen its share of different types of governance. It has a very long history that dates back around to the 4th century (if memory serves me right). It had established what is the First Bulgarian Empire, followed by a second, then was later subject to Turkish-Ottoman expansion/rule with the capture of Turnovo (the capital at the time). This point in history is one I find rather fascinating, yet sad -- as any 'conquest' often is. What amazes me the most about Bulgaria and it's people is that after nearly 500 years of Turkish rule, they were able to maintain many of the traditions, the language, the cuisine that they had previously called their own. I find that there is tremendous beauty in this.

1876 saw the April Uprising -- a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire that resulted in many deaths, but established two independent Bulgarian provinces. Shortly after, Russia swept in and participated in the Russo-Turkish war, lasting a year (1877-1878) until the Treaty of San Stefano was signed on March 3rd of 1878. This day is celebrated as Liberation Day in Bulgaria. This period of time is a bit confusing as the land that constituted Bulgaria was moving back and forth from Ottoman control, and changing with the various signing of treaties, and the persistent occurrence of war.

Later World War One and Two occur, but there is more on this in Part Two of this post. Look out for it soon!!

So today I received my martenitsa from Babo, it's quite beautiful! Though it makes me feel like I must work much harder on mine next year. I posted pictures of my martenitsa, Penda on Facebook -- everyone thinks she's a voodoo doll! Haha. When I get the chance later tonight, I will edit this post so you can all see it. :)

Leka Nosht,


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