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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 2- Christmas Eve and Christmas.
“Christmas Eve” or Badni vecher in Bulgarian and “Christmas” or Koleda are holidays popular throughout the world. In Bulgaria, they are “family holidays,” or semeyni praznitsi, and are among the most important Christian holidays of the year. For this reason, Bulgarians celebrate the holiday for three consecutive days—from December 25 to December 27. On these days, everyone spends time with their nearest and dearest, and there are many special dishes and rituals for these holidays.
In this lesson, you’ll learn how Bulgarians celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas.
Now, before we get into more detail, I've got a trivia question for you-
What does the word Badni literally mean and why is Badni vecher a strange name for “Christmas Eve”?
If you don't already know, keep listening! The answer will be revealed at the end of this lesson!
The holiday called Badni vecher is an Orthodox Christian holiday with many traditional practices. On this day, an abundant feast is prepared but all meals must be meatless. The main dishes usually includes beans or bob, vine or cabbage leaves stuffed with rice, or in Bulgarian sarmi, boiled wheat or zhito, pumpkin pastry, or tikvenik, and dried fruit compote, or in Bulgarian oshav. There will also be fruits, garlic, walnuts, and honey. There must be an odd number of dishes. The most important element is the ceremonial bread. Each member of the family receives a piece of it. In this bread there are lucky charms, and the main one is a coin which brings health and good luck to the person who gets it.
On Christmas Eve, there are lots of folk enchantments and predictions. For example, everyone picks a walnut from those on the table, breaks it open, and, if the walnut is light-colored, it means good luck. At midnight, Christmas comes and, according to the tradition, the koledari will stop by. This is a group of young men led by an older man who go from house to house, dressed in traditional Bulgarian folk costumes. They sing ritual songs and wish happiness to the family, blessing the home at the end.
There is a belief that wishes come true on Christmas.
According to Christianity, Christmas is the day of Christ’s birth—the day when the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was born. That is why this day is also the Name Day or Imen den of everyone named “God’s Gift” or in Bulgarian Bozhidar, “Joyful,” or Hristo, “Glorious,” or in Bulgarian Radoslav, “God is with us” or Emanuil, and other derivative names.
On December 27, St. Stefan's Day is celebrated, and the people with this name celebrate their Name Day. On these holidays, people go to the church in order to attend the solemn liturgical services.
At home, Bulgarians celebrate a lot like people in other countries around the world—with a Christmas tree, decorations, and, of course, with “Santa Claus” or in Bulgarian Dyado Koleda. During socialist rule, the “Santa Claus” was called “Grandfather Frost” or in Bulgarian Dyado Mraz and he brought presents on New Year’s Day instead of Christmas. However, it has always been a tradition for Dyado Koleda to pay visits to schools and kindergartens.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Do you know where the name Badni vecher for “Christmas Eve” comes from and what the word badni means?
According to tradition, a special log called badnik is blessed and set alight in the fireplace. The name badni comes from that. The meaning of the word itself is related to another word—badnina which has the meaning of “faith in the future.”
How was this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
How do you celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas?
Leave a comment letting us know at BulgarianPod101.com
and we'll see you in the next lesson!


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Monday at 6:30 pm
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How do you celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas?

Tuesday at 5:43 pm
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Hi Hannah,

You can ask your Bulgarian friends:

Получихте ли писмото ми? / Did he get my letter?

You can also wish them:

Весела Коледа! / Merry Christmas!

Здраве и късмет (ви пожелавам)! (I wish you) Health and good luck! - it is quite ok to skip the words in (...)

You can also wish them:

успех - success, good luck

берекет - prosperity

Kind regards,

Tina, BulgarianPod101.com Team

Sunday at 8:23 pm
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ot Germania sum. How would I wish Bulgarian friends a happy Christmas and good luck and health in Bulgarian?

Also (I'm still quite a beginner with the language and haven't yet learned how to say things in the past tense), how do I ask "Did he get my letter?"

Thanks and merry Christmas to you all! :)