Podcast in English
Bulgarian National Radio © 2022 All Rights Reserved

In Search of Bulgarian legends

"Bulgaria proved to be extremely rich in stories" - says one of the authors of the book "Myths and Legends from Bulgaria", Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vihra Baeva

Photo: Facebook/vihra.baeva

Dragons, fairies, legends of magical lakes and fantastic mountain peaks, tales of monasteries and extraordinary adventures from the past, sometimes far back to the beginning of time - they all unlock our childlike ability to accept life as a fairy tale, as a battlefield where evil meets good, where courage conquers even the humblest of human beings. A fairy tale to live in.

This magical world is within the pages of a book - the latest popular science book "Myths and Legends from Bulgaria" from the "Grand Book" series by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Veselka Toncheva and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vihra Baeva. The two ladies have been engaged in folklore studies for 20 years as part of the team of the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with the Ethnographic Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Three years ago they have collected in a "Grand Book" everything important and interesting about Bulgarian holidays and customs. In their latest book they focus on the myths and legends in Bulgarian folklore.

Myths were the first stories passed down from person to person that dealt with universal life questions such as the creation of the world, explains Vihra Baeva. Legends came next, and legends referred to specific places, people or objects in the landscape of an area.

In our tradition there were also the so-called transitional legendary tales, which were again related to a specific place, but had a magical element - a miraculous icon or a mythical creature. A good example of this is the legend of Tsar Ivan Shishman, who was beheaded. Where drops of his blood fell, miraculous springs gushed.

"Myths and Legends from Bulgaria" is a collection of 110 stories from all geographical regions of the country. Some of the tales were recorded by the two folklorists personally in the field. Along with the typical folk tales that come from the depths of time and tell of mythical creatures, there are also those that merge with modern times and keep us close to the past.

Vihra Baeva and Veselka Toncheva

"Personally, I was very impressed by a different type of stories that are perhaps less known and are relatively new, says Vihra Baeva. - It is the theme of the poor boy, an orphan with a difficult childhood who, thanks to his enterprise and resourcefulnessbecomes rich, has a fortune and is a respected man in society who develops charitable activities and helps his fellow citizens.

There are several such figures from different places. I am reminded of the story of Krustyo Shipkov from Kazanlak, who followed this folk model."

The story of the village of Sklave, near Sandanski, is also very curious. Legend has it that it was the birthplace of the famous gladiator Spartacus. Among the popular local attractions are the gladiator games, which are held in the village stadium in mid-June, when the village festival is held.

This is a family book. It will appeal to both young children and their parents. But the most important thing for the two authors is that it is a virtual journey through Bulgaria and the places of its legends, and they hope it will evoke a desire for real adventures.

So the stories are arranged by region and each is followed by brief notes on how to get to the location - in some cases there is also information on points of interest such as cliffs, peaks, lakes, fountains, ruins of fortresses, churches and monasteries and other places that root history in the surrounding landscape. Thus, the book is also a kind of guidebook to the "legend tourism", says Associate Professor Dr. Baeva.

"The world we live in is different now, but still it seems to me that there are some fundamental human values that have not lost their meaning even today. And they are related to kindness, courage, not giving up and looking for a way to cope with difficulties. Folklore provides some positive examples and we will not go wrong if we turn to it more often," – says Vihra Baeva. 

Compiled by: Vesela Krusteva (interview by Katia Vasileva, BNR-Radio Sofia)

Editor: Elena Karkalanova

English version: Elizabeth Radkova

Photos: Facebook/vihra.baeva

Listen to the daily news from Bulgaria presented in "Bulgaria Today" podcast, available in Spotify.

More from category

Victoria Angelova-Vinarova. Sofia, art gallery, St. Alexander Nevsky Sq., 1932-1933 and Ministry of Public Buildings, Roads and Urban Development

An exhibition traces the work of female architects in Bulgaria and Germany

Did you know that the building of the Sofia City Library in Slaveykov square was designed by one of Bulgaria’s top female architects – Victoria Angelova, in 1926? And if you are asking yourselves why this fact is so important, let us say that it is part..

published on 7/4/22 12:50 PM
Photos: personal archive, BNR Burgas

Georgi Gospodinov reveals the hidden messages of Bulgarian banknotes

Writer Georgi Gospodinov presented in Burgas one of his less known works entitled “The Cracks of the Canon”. It is divided into two parts. The first one renders an analysis of some of the less popular works of renowned Bulgarian writers Hristo Botev,..

published on 7/3/22 11:15 AM

Exhibition in Plovdiv showcases works of 17 renowned Bulgarian artists of the 20th century

Works by renowned Bulgarian artists of the 20 th century will be displayed at the City Art Gallery-Exhibition Hall 19 in the city of Plovdiv. Plovdiv’s most spacious exhibition hall is named after the city’s title of European Capital of Culture for..

published on 7/2/22 10:10 AM