October 31 in Bulgaria is a day that causes some controversy. Today, many people celebrate Halloween, while others call for respecting native traditions in which there was no place for foreign customs.
On one side there are the children and young people, for whom the night of October 31 is a great occasion to have fun, dressed in costumes that are more entertaining than scary. On the other side there are people who claim that Bulgarians have similar holidays that are forgotten and call for more attention to be paid to the Day of Bulgarian Enlighteners – November 1.
Is it possible to awaken the desire in people to get to know Bulgarian traditions through a foreign holiday? Organizers of an interesting and entertaining retro-tram ride in Sofia say it is.
“A Halloween party in a retro-tram is held for the first time this year,” Emil Ruschev, one of the organizers, says. “We have prepared a performance by three young Bulgarian actors, while people will also be able to enjoy watching the historical sites. We have also planned a special fire show.”
The tram with participants in masquerade costumes will start its journey from Vazrazhdane square downtown Sofia and will pass near some of the landmarks of the capital city - the Ministry of Agriculture, the Court, the Largo downtown Sofia, Lion’s Bridge and the Central Railway Station.
“We focus on the Largo because there are many historical layers there and events that have taken place,” Bozhidar Emanuilov says. "All of these buildings have interesting stories that will intertwine with the holiday.”
“We think a lot about these events. We are looking to combine the educational part with the interesting, and make people learn more about the city and its history. One of the key things is to have a lot of smiles, lots of emotions and pleasant interactions with different people,” Emil Ruschev adds.
And those who have decided to welcome the night before the Day of the Bulgarian Enlighteners can join an initiative calling for wearing folk costumes instead of scary masks. More from organizer Vasil Todorov.
“This is a form of protest. We respect our national enlighteners and want them to be honored. Because of Halloween, this holiday somehow disappears, even at school. The kids have fun putting on masks and forget about our Bulgarian holiday. I do not think people who do not own a Bulgarian folk costume are not patriots. The patriot may not have a costume. But the Bulgarian costume is a symbol. That's why we do it this way," Vasil Todorov says.
A big procession will also pass through the center of Sofia. It is organized by a group of Bulgarians who love their homeland and want to preserve Bulgarian traditions and customs. The idea was born spontaneously last year and in a short time gained much popularity.
“Actually, we have decided to create something new and different from that which is alien and distant for our land. We are Bulgarians and we are interested in Bulgarian things,” initiator Sasho Gatev says. “Bulgarians are people who do things in the name of life and do not have fun with death. Therefore, whoever wishes is welcome to join us.”
Participants in folk costumes will start their rally at the Court of Justice along the pedestrian street of Vitosha.
“Everyone is free to have fun in the way they want,” Sasho Gatev says. "I and many people around me have chosen to sing Bulgarian songs, meet with friends and wear folk costumes. Those who do not have one can just carry the Bulgarian flag with them.”
In fact, at the heart of many Christian feasts lie pagan customs and it is a matter of personal understanding whether and how we celebrate. Still, the idea of every holiday is to unite people and bring good mood.
English: Alexander MarkovPhotos: private library and BGNES