A Simple Christmas Eve Family Celebration In Bulgaria

A Simple Christmas Eve Family Celebration In Bulgaria Christmas here with Galia’s family in Yambol was a simple affair with no gimmicks attached. The plan was to have a family get together on Christmas Eve and just talk, eat, drink and dance, bit not necessarily in that order. Four generations of family were all together in one place by 9:00 Christmas Eve and the food and drink was being dipped into.

Christmas is very economical here ijh out household, I don’t think it would be much different if we had money either as the habit of not wasting money is instilled into Bulgarian souls here. As a couple of examples is the fact that we don’t exchange Christmas cards and most of the food is homemade during this season with the majority stocks that have been grown from the summer and autumn. It makes so much sense to be like this/. To me sending Christmas cards was always done in the main just for the sake of it and to not send one was made out to be criminal. This was the only reason many were sent not to be made to feel guilty.

Shopping at Christmas and crowds leading up tot Christmas just doesn’t happen here. To me this is such a great thing to experience and my thoughts are always on my past and the rush and bad tempers and the stress and the commercial rut that the UK is in. It is hard not to get that past and the mayhem of this out of my head even after quite a few Christmases here.

A Simple Christmas Eve Family Celebration In Bulgaria Decorations at this festive season are at a minimum and what we do put out are used year in year out. We just have a simple Christmas tree is a simple half a metre tall plastic affair, which never ages in the ten years it has been used here. It is just as effective each year without lights. No fancy ceiling and wall decorations, just two little Santa Clause figures hanging from a couple of cupboard knobs, that’s it.

Food at this time of year is not that much different form our daily meals. Dishes for the Christmas Eve family celebration consist of vegetarian dishes up until midnight when the meat dishes come out. We all came with out own dishes, which made up the seven different dishes of the night. Seven different dishes on this particular night is traditional although it can be extended to nine or eleven. Apart from the traditional baked bread, the sweet boiled wheat dish and mushroom (in place of mince) filled sarmi (stuffed vine leaves) all the other dishes are regular finds on our kitchen dining table. To me this home made food from homegrown products is a special celebration every day in any case. The difference is the company and occasion, which makes it even more special.

This is a time for all generations to get together as the eldest member of the family starts the celebration off with a speech. Baba at 85 was the eldest and did the honours. She was then handed the flat bread and broke off the first piece then passed to on to every person there. We all hoped to get the buried 20 stotinki coin that gave good luck for next year, guess who got it – Yes me. I felt quite guilty denying all these Bulgarian their luck.

The evening was now rolling with fun and laughter all round aided by lashings of rakia (all three varieties of homemade). Then the dancing started and the gifts made to the children. Not gifts that you expect. These were little gifts of little sweet snacks and some fruit (and apple and an orange) in a little plastic bag. The children of the family were more than content with their gifts, which were gracefully accepted from another older member of the family. The older members of the family are seen with great respect here and again this is so rewarding for me to watch each year.

A Simple Christmas Eve Family Celebration In Bulgaria Dancing, eating drinking and of course talking with the volume on a never crescendo throughout the night continued. Midnight came and the meat was served. This was simply sliced salami and the end of the traditional fasting from meat (just the day for us but puritans from the 5th December.)

We finally left at 4:00 in the morning with Baba being supported on both sides by Galia and myself, I think we both needed her support to be quite honest. Home was only 400 metres away as we arrived and all slept like a log after a heart warming occasion that could and did bring a tear to my eye.

This is how Christmas should be celebrated, with family, tradition upheld and simple food, drink and respect for everyone, something that I am still getting used to here after all the Christmases I never really looked forward to in the UK.
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