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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Bulgaria Series at BulgarianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Bulgarian holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 1- New Year's Day
In Bulgaria, like most places around the world, “New Year’s Day,” or Nova godina, represents a new start and a cause for grand celebration. Whether at their homes or at a raucous party, Bulgarians ring in the New Year by eating well, drinking abundantly, and watching the spectacular fireworks.
In this lesson, you'll learn about how Bulgarian people celebrate the New Year.
Now, before we get into more detail, I've got a trivia question for you-
Why do Bulgarians tap each other's back with “decorated cornel branches,” or survachka, during the New Year’s ritual known as survakane?
If you don't already know, keep listening! The answer will be revealed at the end of this lesson!
The New Year’s celebration begins on the eve of the last day of the year, December 31. Parties and gatherings take place in the “central city square” or ploshtad in cities across Bulgaria. Heading to bigger cities, like Plovdiv, Varna, or the capital Sofia, is a popular way to celebrate.
However, Bulgarians most often welcome the New Year at “home,” or vkashti. For many Bulgarians, New Year’s represents a time for family and tradition. Food is an important part of this tradition.
The most typical food for the holiday is the “New Year pastry with lucky charms” - banitsa s kasmeti. According to the tradition, small objects symbolizing health and longevity are placed inside the banitsa. For example, the cornel twig with buds on it symbolizes health and longevity.
Instead of charms, however, it’s becoming more and more popular to make banitsa with wishes written on little pieces of paper, pinned on the pastry. The hosts get to choose what wishes are written down, so, usually, they end up being playful jokes, rather than heart-felt desires. People drink plenty of fruit brandy known as rakia and toast to the health of their friends and family, and wish for a prosperous New Year.
As they celebrate, families gather together to listen to the New Year’s speech given by the President known as the novogodishnata rech na Prezidenta. Then, just before midnight, they “count down,” or otbroyavat, the last seconds of the old year.
At exactly midnight, “fireworks,” or zarya, literally meaning “illuminations,” mark the beginning of prolonged festivities with lots of champagne and merriment. Both the young and the old stream out of their houses and gather in the city square to join in on the many different “round folk dances,” or, in Bulgarian, hora, set to traditional folk music. Many of the dancers will be sporting new clothes to symbolize a fresh start and to bring good luck.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Do you know why the New Year’s ritual called survakane involves tapping each other's backs with survachka, meaning “decorated cornel branches”?
Bulgarians tap each other on the back with survachka for good luck and for good health. The meaning of the word surva is “a strong and prosperous year.” With survakane, people convey their wish that their loved ones have a happy and prosperous new year.
How was this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
How do you celebrate New Years in your country?
Leave us a comment letting us know at BulgarianPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson!

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How do you celebrate New Years in your country?