Bulgarian Cuisine · Traditions

Bulgarian Christmas food

Ok, so I know this is a bit too late to write about since Christmas already passed and so has even the New years, but like so many other I´ve been busy with celebrating the holidays my self with my family.

Anyhow, so traditionally for the Bulgarian Orthodox Christmas it all starts with fasting for 40 days and nights before the actual Christmas the 25th of December. So around the 15th of November the fasting starts and it means that you are suppose to eat meatless food or drink alcohol for this 40 days. Depending on where you live and the family beliefs milk, cheese and eggs are ok for some people, meanwhile you should avoid it in other family’s. The Bulgarian Orthodox church recommends 13 different meals for Christmas Eve, all vegetarian, and the odd number represent luck. To cook with beans are very popular among many Bulgarian family’s.

Walnuts is a must on the Bulgarian Christmas table! Traditionally each member of the family cracks a walnut to determine their fate for the next year. It is believed that if the walnut is a good one the next year will be full of success, a bad one predicts bad luck.

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Photo: http://www.indobase.com/holidays/christmas/world/christmas-in-bulgaria.html

Otherwise all family have their own traditions and recipes on what they consider must be on the table. Although, Сарми (Sarmi) is a popular dish around Christmas as well. Sarmi is a meal where you either use leaves from grapes or white cabbage to fill them with rise, onion and parsley. You can also fill them with minced meat but then it won´t fit in for the vegetarian Christmas food. Other food connected to boiled wheat and stews are  a hit.

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Photo: http://www.indobase.com/holidays/christmas/world/christmas-in-bulgaria.html

Midnight to the 25th of December the feast starts! To start with everyone drink a sip of wine to ritually mark that the that the fasting have ended. During the night  between the 24-25th they don´t clear the table, it is believed that the deceased will come to dine. On the 25th Bulgarians starts to eat meat again. The fasting is over for this time and hopefully the fasting have brought a cleansed mind and spirit for the next year.

Коледна питка (koledna pitka) is a traditional bread that is being baked and served around Christmas and new year. It’s a white bread that is being beautifully decorated with what the person feels like doing. It can be decorated a cross, flowers or even the Santa Claus, only the imagination puts the limit for what you can decorate it with. The bread has a ritual meaning where the bread is being baked with a coin and a green leaf. Who ever find the coin will have plenty of luck and success for the next year, and the one who will find the leaf will be very healthy for the up coming year. As with many other rituals and traditions in Bulgaria, it all depends on where you live, many villages and family’s have their own beliefs and ways of doing it.

So for the new years eve I made my very first pitka. I must admit that I took it out from the oven a little too soon, but I was afraid to make the bread too dry (I´m not a big fan of dry bread). Otherwise I think it was ok. I decorated the bread with a sun. Since me and my Bulgarian man lives in Sweden and this is no doubt the darkest time and all Scandinavians long for the sun and light now it felt natural to decorate the bread with a sun.

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New years Eve Meze with pitka, salami, sirene and lutenitsa

I hope you all had an amazing New year night and a good first day of the new year of 2016! I have a feeling that this year will be a very good year.

So, Честита нова година (chestita nova godina=happy new year)! 

 

 

Sources for this article:

http://www.investbulgaria.com/BulgarianChristmas.php

http://goeasteurope.about.com/od/bulgariaandthebalkans/ss/bulgariaculture.htm#step5

http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/Bulgarian-Christmas/tp/Bulgarian-Christmas-Eve-Recipes.htm

http://www.indobase.com/holidays/christmas/world/christmas-in-bulgaria.html

 

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