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Who that gets angry, he gets old quickly: Bulgarian proverbs and folk wisdoms of health

Like all people around the world, Bulgarians treasure health immensely. Without any exception, Bulgaria’s traditional holidays celebrate health and fertility. The decoration of ritual breads, foods and objects with green leaves and herbs, the garnishing of festive attires with special embroideries and colours, as well as the sanctification of water and fire rituals have left indelible marks in the mind of contemporary Bulgarians. Perhaps, nowadays, it is the proverbs and sayings that have proved most lasting. These short verbal expressions, which have been forged by the experience of generations of Bulgarians, lend some peculiar weight to what has been said. In this edition of Folk Studio, Radio Bulgaria’s music editor Albena Bezovska shares some of Bulgaria’s folk wisdoms with you, our listeners.

On the eve of Eniovden /Midsummer Day/ the Sun goes down to Earth and bathes in water, which is particularly healing on this day. To mark the occasion, Bulgarians roll in dew grass and go to streams and rivers to perform ritual bathing for purification. The touch of life-giving plants and herbs prevents from evil spirits, as well as heals and gives power, Bulgarians believed. What is more, according to them, inner peace, right words, thoughts and actions are essential to physical health. Of course, speaking rightly and walking the path of righteousness is not easy. Walking the good way takes a lot of effort and sacrifice. As the folk wisdom goes, “Who that speaks rightly, he goes to bed with empty stomach”.

According to another wisdom, “When one has life, health and good thoughts, he does not need money”. Still other says “The richest man is the healthy one, because health is the biggest property”. It should be noted that Bulgarian folk wisdoms do not speak only of physical health. All folk beliefs point to the adoption of a holistic view on life. According to this view, nothing manifests in the physical realm alone. The things that exist in this world are projected into the afterlife. Therefore, people should aspire towards purity of soul. The soul, it is believed, lives in the heart, and goes in and out of the body via the human breath. Folk wisdom also says that the soul leaves and enters the body, as long as the heart beats. The moment it stops beating, the soul has already flown away. Of all the things in life, people take only their souls into the next world. Therefore, the heart should be pure. In the same vein, a person is beautiful because, as the proverbs go, “The pure heart appears in the face” and “Who that gets angry, he gets old and ugly quickly”.

Bulgarian wisdoms also say: “If your soul is sick, your flesh is sick, too”; “Money in your bag makes you happy provided that you are healthy to spend it”. Hardly do these proverbs sound strange to contemporary people. Neither do another saying that reads “Health, life and nice weather can never bore”. The victory over human shortcomings also lends physical health. Here is what Bulgarian folk wisdom has to say about that: “Who that envies another person’s health, he does not live happily” or “Be happy about another person’s health, so that you are happy with your own”. For those that have a lot of friends, here is yet another saying that celebrates friendship – “Nobody can be a better doctor than the true friend”.

English version: Vyara Popova
По публикацията работи: Albena Bezovska
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