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Bulgarian community in San Fransisco keeps native traditions alive

Tanya Kostova
Photo: antikabulgaria.com

The success of every patriotic deed undertaken by Tanya Kostova is due to a simple rule. Nothing happens and is done at all cost. That is probably why our compatriot who lives in remote America avoids using the word “must”. This work style quickly yields results. In the course of 20 years spent in San Francisco, Tanya united around herself Bulgarian emigrants who have chosen to open a new page in their lives in California and the neighboring states. For many of them, the time spent with Tanya is an occasion to think again about their return to their home country and some of them even did it already.

The passion with which Tanya talks about Bulgarian traditions and customs is captivating. Thus, Bulgarians in San Francisco established their own dance and song ensemble with the Antika Bulgaria Folk Dance Ensemble Cultural Club, as well as a weekend family school named Martenitsas. Tanya Kostova has more about the school:

“Some people from the Bulgarian ensemble founded a Bulgarian school for their children as well.  Parents and children began to study together in this school. We danced, sang, painted, recited and modeled there. Some of these families have already returned to Bulgaria thanks to everything they learnt and felt in these classes.”


The youngest visitors to the school are about two years old and there are no age restrictions.

Although meetings are held four times a month, the work in the family school never stops. Students are also busy creating projects dedicated to the Nativity of Christ, New Year, Baba Marta and Bulgaria’s national holiday (National Liberation Day) marked on March 3. Together, they prepare the most important and most awaited festival dedicated to the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius which lasts for 4 days. And since it does not have its own building, the Bulgarian Cultural Club is housed in the building of the Croatian Cultural Center. In 2020 the festival marked its 20th anniversary, although events were held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Tanya Kostova told Radio Bulgaria more details about the event:

“It is unveiled on Friday in the Bulgarian church Cyril and Methodius in San Francisco. On Saturday, we move the festival to the Croatian Cultural Center. A talent show with the participation of children and adults is held. Later, they have the opportunity to meet our guest artists. On Saturday, we perform a special ritual connected with the icon of the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius, followed by a concert to the rendition of all Bulgarian ensembles participating at the programme. The so-called “Festival on wheels” follows on Sunday. For the purpose, we rent a bus to visit favorite places in San Francisco, On Monday we take the icon back to the Holy Cross Orthodox Monastery situated close to San Francisco.”


Recently, Tanya Kostova was nominated for “Awakener of 2020” award at a national campaign organized by the Bulgarian National Radio.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

Photos: antikabulgaria.com

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