1. We’re not afraid to speak our minds.
We Bulgarians are not ones to conceal our real thoughts, even if it’s for the sake of diplomacy. We’ll definitely let you know if we don’t like you, as well as publicly criticize whatever you’re doing wrong, because we value sincerity and see it as an expression of care and a way to learn from our mistakes.
2. We’ve learned how to use gossip productively.
We talk about each other in secret as a form of entertainment, but at the end of the day, we mean well and resolve our conflicts. Ain’t no harm in telling your girlfriends over cocktails and slim cigarettes how the downstairs neighbors had a loud fight two nights ago. After all, it’s no fun to keep our lives private. We are passionate, emotional people who like to be actively involved in each other’s lives in order to boost our importance.
3. We’re not ashamed to use dance as an outlet.
In Bulgaria, we have the ruchenitsa, which gets our hearts pumping in seconds as we jump around waving a handkerchief while wearing a fuzzy hat and nosiya. To us, dancing is a way to charge our positive energy and build intimate friendships, since most of our moves are very touchy-feely.
4. We’re always well-read on international events.
Open up a 24 Chasa or Trud and you’ll see that they are filled with international news. We care as much about Volen Siderov’s arrest in Sofia, as we do about the Russian embargo on Turkish foods. We recognize how closely intertwined countries are in today’s globalized world. Plus, it makes us seem more well-read.
5. We value our grandmas and grandpas (a.k.a our free babysitters) and try to see them as much as we can.
The familial tree is a pillar of Bulgarian culture. Grandma and grandpa are not people you see once a year during Christmas. They usually live just down the street from us and are very active in our family life (sometimes a little too active). They represent a source of practical knowledge who we seek advice from, as well as a free babysitter and a chef who takes care of the children while both parents are busy working.
6. We’ve mastered the art of sipping on an espresso for an hour.
Café culture is an absolute must for our laid-back days. Instead of ordering food, we opt for a short Lavazza coffee and a glass of water — water in Bulgaria isn’t free, which is maybe one of the abilities we have to work on — and milk that tiny cup for as long as possible while reading the paper or chit-chatting with friends. We’re not afraid to break up our 9 to 5 work schedule and get a dose of entertainment while people watching.
7. We’re funnier than most people.
We Bulgarians know how to make others laugh. Rather than being concerned with the public opinion, we’re the ones mocking ourselves in front of our friends. Our sense of humor is our most charming quality. We love to be the center of attention because this is a way of building popularity in school, at work, or among friends.
8. We aren’t mindless eaters.
Food has a central role in Bulgarian culture, so whenever we dine, it’s a feast in big company. We bring out the pogacha, paniran kashkaval, tsatsa and drobcheta, as a way of catching up with family and enjoying traditional, home-made recipes (but we normally just make grandma cook).
9. We know the real way to eat cheese.
If you tell a Bulgarian that you eat your cheese with crackers, we’ll look perplexed. Two words: fruit and feta, okay? Or kashkaval with grapes. It’s fresher and healthier without all those carbs. (We also care about our fitness a lot, and small substitutions like this one keep us in that renowned, lean, Eastern European shape.)
10. We are all multi-lingual.
English is an absolute must if you want your child to have any economical prosperity in Europe. Other popular languages we teach in gimnazia are Spanish, German, and French. Russian is making a comeback, but we are mostly West-oriented. Take this from a country who’s struggled economically for a long time — language is power. The more tongues we speak, the more job and travel opportunities we get.
11. We know how to be relaxed at work.
We Bulgarians value our free time tremendously. In our head, the weekend officially begins on Thursday, and a typical work week would involve a Friday of us being “sick.” You’d never catch us working 60 hours a week. EVER. We believe that life is too short and that we should be the masters of our time — so we go shopping, clubbing, hiking or napping whenever we please. We may not get high salaries, but we always manage to pull together a few leva to live it up at the Black Sea.
12. We raise our kids to be independent.
Raised in Bulgaria, I was already enjoying a healthy amount of wine as a 10-year-old and entertaining myself while my parents were at work. I could also go out with friends looking for eggs as a lazarka without a babysitter. By age 16, I was studying and living on the other side of the world in Boston, USA. Bulgarian parents feel like a little more freedom helps our kids be self-sustaining from an early age, so by the time college rolls around, they know how to behave socially and how to solve their own problems.