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Bulgarians in Papenburg bring together people with Slavic roots

New Bulgarian Sunday school to open in Germany’s ship building center

Hauptkanal, Papenburg
Photo: ЕПА/FOCKE STRANGMANN


The Bulgarian community in the German federal state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) will celebrate together the Day of the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius, Bulgarian alphabet, Education and Culture and of Slavonic Script for the first time. The German-Bulgarian Society Ognisthe (Fireplace) is the organizer of the celebrations. On May 22, or two days before the Day of Slavonic Alphabet, Bulgarian Enlightenment and Culture, it is expected to bring together all people with Slavic roots from Papenburg and the surrounding area- Bulgarians, Serbs, Croats, Poles, Slovenians, Ukrainians and Russians.

Papenburg, the Mill

The celebrations begin with a festive procession along the town’s main street. The procession will reach the bridge on Hauptkanal. The festive programme continues with a special programme with the participation of students from the Bulgarian school “Friendship” from Groningen, the Netherlands and students from the local sports club “Yavara”. Finally, all participants are to dance a Bulgarian horo chain dance, together with “Rachenitsa” dance group from Papеnburg.

Nearly 4,000 Bulgarian citizens are officially registered in Papenburg. However, their number is probably much bigger, Sabina Christov, Chairperson of the German-Bulgarian Society Ognishte, said for Radio Bulgaria. In her words, the Bulgarian language is the only thing that truly unites Bulgarians abroad.

“The preparation for the current celebrations took place in a very complicated global environment in which it is very difficult to properly present the Bulgarian language and its great importance. Bulgarian is the basis of all Slavic languages. It is difficult, because we all know what is happening in Ukraine- an unprecedented crucifixion of Slavism and Orthodoxy. We present our language as a unifying element between us and this approach impresses our German friends. Our role now is to throw a bridge between people. The language bequeathed by our ancestors is capable of building such bridges.”

The Bulgarian school “Friendship” in Groningen, the Netherlands, will also take part at the May 24 celebrations. It enables local Bulgarian children to study their mother tongue and history. Every Saturday in the past eight months, four children from Papenburg have travelled 140 kilometers and crossed the state border to study at this school. There is another Bulgarian school in Bremen, but it is almost 140 kilometers away from Papenburg, Sabina Hristova clarifies.

A class at the Friendshop School

“That is why I decided to open a school in the German town of Papenburg. It will be unveiled in September”, Angelina Bos, Founder and Principal of “Friendship” school said in an interview for Radio Bulgaria. So far, 18 children from Papenburg have enrolled into the new school.

One year ago, Angelina settled in her husband’s country and immediately decided to establish a Bulgarian school in the Netherlands. 27 children of Bulgarian descent aged 2 to 15 now study at her school. “Children enroll to our school, because their parents want them to keep in touch with Bulgaria, learn Bulgarian, learn how to write in Bulgarian and preserve our traditions”, Angelina explains.

Over the past month, we have been talking a lot about the Day of Slavonic Script. I played the official anthem of May 24 “Varvi Narode Vazrodeni” (March ahead, O revived people) and asked them how they feel. I was pleasantly surprised when they replied in one voice “We feel proud and happy”. I did not expect them to use these words. Children here are much more patriotic, probably because their parents tell them only good things about Bulgaria and take pride in the fact that they are Bulgarians.”

Eleonora Vasileva (10), Groningen, the Netherlands

Angelina Boss regards May 24 as a very important and bright holiday, because her entire life is tied to education, literature and the love for Bulgarian language. She worked as a journalist in Bulgaria and now she is a school principal abroad. Why she does all that?

“Sometimes I also ask myself this question, because this is a very difficult job. The only answers is - children. Children make me happy and everything I do with them makes me happy. That is why I do it.”

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

Photos: Facebook/DBG OGNISCHTE

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