Bulgarian Society and Culture
Bulgaria is officially a secular nation and the Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion but appoints Orthodoxy as an official religion. Most citizens of Bulgaria have associations — at least nominally — with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church
The Role of the Family
In 1991, the average Bulgarian family included four people. Families of two to five people were common, whereas families of six or more were rare. In the larger families, moreover, the additional members usually included one or two of the couple’s parents. In 1980, extended families spanning three or even four generations made up 17 percent of all households, indicating the persistence of the extended family tradition. Although the tradition was more prevalent in the villages of western and southern Bulgaria than in the cities, many urban newlyweds lived with their parents because they could not afford or obtain separate apartments
History and Culture
The Bulgarian lands are ancient crossroads, inhabited from ancient times they remember many ancient civilizations. The state of Bulgaria is 1,300 years old showcasing over a millennium of history. According to statistics, it is the third most cultural country, only topped by Greece and Italy, because of the number of its archaeological monuments. Bulgarian culture involves many rituals, music, dance and costumes.
Etiquette and Customs
Meeting and Greeting
In Bulgaria, conservative traditions are still abundant, so a formal handshake and an appropriate salutation for the time of day is the most appropriate gesture. If you are not introduced to the group as a whole, make sure to shake hands and greet the most senior members present first. Use honorific titles if they are known, or if not, address a man as “Gospodin” (Mr) or a woman as “Gospozha” (Mrs.) followed by their surname. Men and women may kiss on the cheeks, but your Bulgarian host should only ever initiate this sort of informal greeting.
When visiting Bulgaria, whether on business or pleasure you may be invited into the home of a Bulgarian for dinner. If this is the case, you should be aware of a few points of social etiquette. Firstly, it is good etiquette to bring a gift for your host. Flowers (with an odd number of stems) and spirits are appropriate, and you needn’t be too decadent. It is important that you appear to have put a lot of thought into the gift giving, rather than opting for something overly extravagant.
You should also be aware that if family members are present at the meal, you should be aware that most senior person present will be served first. As a guest you may be invited to start first, however it would be good manners to insist that the most elderly person at the table should begin. So no tucking into your food without being invited to do so by your host.
Generally, Bulgarian meals will be full of chatter, and table manners are not overtly formal. However, despite the otherwise casual nature of Bulgarian dining, you should still make sure that your elbows don’t rest on the table and that your hands are always on show.
The general consensus is also that a smaller portion of food is served first, so that you are able to accept a second helping. This shows that you are enjoying the food and that your host has provided plentiful amounts of food.