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The 19 Most Revealing Expressions of Bulgarian Culture (and a Few Funny Ones)

Bulgaria Languages Food + Drink Couples
by Anna Pelova Jun 5, 2015


“They will check out your clothes when they greet you and your mind when they part with you.”
По дрехите посрещат, по ума изпращат

Being well-groomed is important in Bulgarian culture, especially when we want to make a good first impression. We do pay a lot of attention to our “packaging” to make you curious about what’s inside.


We Bulgarians don’t just save money. We save “white money for black days”
Бели пари за черни дни

Because we all know “life is a wheel and we can’t always be on top of it”. Even when we are happy, which happens, we should prepare for the bad times that will most certainly come after our super short moments of bliss. We can’t even be too happy about feeling great.


“Even 100 hits on another person’s back are not enough.”
На чужд гръб и 100 тояги са малко

This expression reminds me that a little more empathy probably wouldn’t hurt us as a whole.


“I don’t want to feel good. I want my neighbor to feel bad.”
Аз не искам аз да съм добре, а на Вуте да му е зле

A Bulgarian writer once told me “if no one hates you in Bulgaria, you are no one. You are zero”. Your neighbor has an expensive car, earns more money, and fucks good-looking women? He surely deserves rotten fish to be thrown in his garden for having a better lifestyle than you.


“No sword can cut a bent head”.
Наведена главица сабя не я сече

When our rights are dishonored, we have two options — raise our voice or stay silent. Those of us Bulgarians who dare to be honest and stand for something always risk getting in trouble or getting fired. I would rather “part with my head” than be silently passive-aggressive and always complain, yet do nothing to improve my own life.


“Whenever I feel like working, I sit and wait for the feeling to pass.”
Кога ми се приработи, седам и чекам да ми мине

Living in a poor country, most of us want to have decent salaries. But a recent Eurostat study shows how 232,000 unemployed and abled Bulgarians aren’t even looking for a job. Sure, that huge four-figure salary can magically appear in our bank accounts with just wishful thinking. Miracles happen.


“While two Bulgarians are arguing, a third one always wins.”
Двама се карат – трети печели

We always lose when we are not united. We know that and yet keep making the same stupid mistake to divide by our differences. Every. Single. Time.


“An ill person carries a healthy one on his back.”
Болен здрав носи

This is the title of a famous Bulgarian fairytale. The morale in it is that tricky people will always try to abuse your weaknesses, if you let them.


“While the smart ones are thinking, the crazy ones are doing crazy things.”
Докато умните умуват, лудите лудуват

This expression judges the passiveness of those who think too much but never act. Letting crazy people be the active ones can do a lot of damage to a country.


“A day can provide for a year.”
Ден година храни

After a huge five-digit amount appears in our bank accounts, we should make it last for a year. What is wrong with having a one-day working year? Don’t be jealous, reader.


“A hungry bear doesn’t dance horo”
Гладна мечка хоро не играе

Don’t expect us to be excited about working when we are hungry. Or full.


“He is as stubborn as a donkey on a bridge.”
Запънал се като магаре на мост

So you think this article sucks and doesn’t really reveal Bulgarian culture? Bite me. You are wrong and I am always right, of course. I’m Bulgarian. End of discussion.


“It doesn’t matter if we win or lose — either way, we are getting drunk”
И да паднем, и да бием – пак ще се напием

Life shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Especially when we lose.


“A guilty person runs when he isn’t chased.”
Гузен негонен бяга

This probably suggests we aren’t the best liars in the world.


“He who eats all the banitsa is not the guilty one, the guilty ones are those who let him eat it.”
Не е виновен този, който яде баницата, а този който му я дава

It is important to take responsibility and stop accusing others for our misery.


“He who sings doesn’t have bad thoughts.”
Който пее, зло не мисли

Although I’m still not sure if this compliments our culture or just makes us look grumpy.


“Friends will be friends, but cheese still costs money.”
Приятелството си е приятелство, но сиренето е с пари

We love doing favors to our friends. But we also love to make a living.


“There are no heroes without wounds.”
Юнак без рана не може

My mum used to say this every time she saw the little me crying with bleeding knees. This taught me to appreciate each bruise, tear, or drop of sweat that ever got me closer to success.


“United Bulgarians can lift a mountain.”
Сговорна дружина планина повдига

Many capable Bulgarians tend to sometimes waste their plentiful energy on being destructive. Khan Kubrat once showed his sons how easy it was to break a single stick, but impossible to break a stack. As a stack, we can do anything. Especially when our stubbornness is actually used for greatness.

And a few funny ones…

A Bulgarian is not “uninterested”…his “lighthouse hurts” (боли ме фара).

A Bulgarian doesn’t “not get it”…she just “warms up slowly” (бавно загрява).

A Bulgarian doesn’t “get in trouble”…he “wades the onions” (сгазвам лука).

A Bulgarian never says “never”…she says “when the clogs blossom” (когато цъфнат налъмите).

Bulgarians won’t “trick you”…they will send you to “go find green caviar” (пращам за зелен хайвер).

A Bulgarian doesn’t “brag”…he “pretends to be two and a half” (правя се на две и половина)

A Bulgarian won’t tell you that you are “bad at something”…he will tell you that you are “naked water” (гола вода).

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