Bulgarians still stick to traditions like making preserves and taking their shoes off at the front door

Photo: BGNES

A Gallup International survey conducted smack in the middle of the election campaign, and for this reason described by some as provocative, shows that Bulgarian society displays a number of traditional habits.

Despite half a century of accelerated urbanization and industrialization, Bulgarians tend to remain attached to the land. Around two-thirds of people aged over 18 are literally an arm’s length away from all things connected with the land and nature. More than 60 percent say they either grow fruit and vegetables, and keep livestock for personal use, or they have friends and acquaintances who do. The modern way of life in the big city where anything can be bought at the local supermarket has not obliterated the traditional making of preserves for winter. More than 70 percent of the respondents say that they have made or have used home-made preserves, including pickled vegetables, chutney, stewed fruit etc. In certain cases the use of home-made products is much preferred to manufactured products below state regulation standards. 66 percent say that if they drink rakia they prefer it to be home-brewed. 25 percent hold the opposite view, the rest are hesitant. For 77 percent of Bulgarians drying clothes on the balcony remains the preferred method despite the effect on the aesthetics of the urban landscape. Another thing that makes a powerful impression is that for more than two-thirds of the respondents it is very important that people visiting their home take their shoes off – 71 percent say that when they have people coming they would like them to enter the house after taking their shoes off.

But there are cases when progress has got the better of tradition. 55 percent of respondents say that “I prefer to do my own home improvements” does not apply to them. Yet 41 percent say they prefer to do home repairs themselves rather than rely on professionals.

On the whole, there is no significant difference between the answers given by men and by women. Naturally, the younger respondents living in big cities and earning a higher income are more detached from traditional habits and tastes. Yet there are no significant differences in their attitudes either. In Sofia most people do not keep livestock or plants, nor do they do home improvements themselves, though they do make preserves, drink homemade rakia and put their clothes out to dry on the balcony.

Edited by Stoimen Pavlov

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