Babin Den or Mid-wives Day in Bulgaria

It was Babin Den or Mid-wives Day on the 21st January in Bulgaria. Everywhere they celebrated with Babas up and down the country. It has become the tradition for men to dress up as Babas with false knee knockers, grey wigs and the full make up, but I'm not so sure whether this was a tradition steeped in history or whether those that take these steps do it for another reason. I will remain silent on that one for now.

The day past and all was forgotten about Babin Day for a while. Next year the same thing will happen again I thought. Then on Monday evening, nearly a week after Babin Day our own Baba walked in the house with a single carnation and a serviette packed full of food, including banitsa, cakes, dried sliva (prunes), biscuits and bread. She had just come back from the school across the road where the children had given a concert of performances including reciting scripts, poetry and singing from memory, acting and a report on what they are studying at school currently. This was all in aid of the children's Babas all of which attended.

At the end of the performance in which all the children had some role to play, the Baba's were individually given a flower and food. Then their Baba was publically wished good health, happiness and luck in the coming year from their grandchildren (great grandchildren in many cases.)

This traditon goes back centuries as it was usually the Baba's who acted as the mid-wive and this day is to celebrate these acts which have to be performed. The rituals vary around the country with wine, rakia, food and dance involved in every one.

I have put forward an extract from one such tradition....

This day is celebrated in grandmothers' honour - midwifes for the health of children and pregnant women. On this day three rituals are performed: children's bathing, a feast in grandmother's home and grandmother's bathing.
From the Annunciation, grandmother prepares butter, honey, millet, a bunch of geranium and red wool. Early in the festive morning she visits each house where she has assisted in childbirth. There she baths the children beginning from the smallest one and she sprays lasses and young girls against the evil eye. Then she spreads the children with honey and butter. This spreading is called "painting red" and it is made for children's health.
(Courtesy of

This is just another example of family communities that have bonds which are fast disappearing in this world of selfishness. The schools here in Yambol apparently do this every year, but this is not typical of the whole of Bulgaria. It is an essential part of the children's social education, which I feel is more important than many other academic subjects taught in the curriculum. How long before the curriculum will be changed to rid itself of this as it may offend ethnic minorities? Negative? Yes, but also truthful.


  1. that is a nice tradition. Yes, sad that sometimes political correctness gets in the way of old tradition even if they are done without malice towards others.

  2. Don't blame the ethnic minorities if the majority does not value native customs.
    Very often ethnic minorities do not voice any disapproval of the majority's customs, but are blamed for others' shortcomings.
    Remember,"political correctness" came about for a purpose---to correct the injustices of the past.
    One example--during my youth in London,in the '70s it was quite common to describe a schoolmate as being "Jewish" if he was seen to be stingy...It is politically-incorrect(and rightly so) to do so now.
    P.C. is not always bad...

  3. Hi nightcabcontroller,
    Interesting point. In a nutshell it is all about over sensitivity.
    I too was a youth in London during the 70s, everyone got tagged with names including myself being half Greek - Dago, Greaseball, Kebab, Doner, Wap etc., this was all part of growing up and most people eventually grew out of this, it was all innocent in the main and part of teenage London.

    There is nothing wrong with the descriptive word 'Stingy,' It is a term for being tight with your money, if you are seen to be tight with your money you are tagged with this name, you don't have to be Jewish. Like I said, I was called many names, but I didn't call my solicitor for a lawsuit in retaliation. Perhaps in years the come you may not be able to call a Jewish person 'Jewish' as that is termed a slandarous word, there will be anbother word to replace this and that eventually will also be a slanderous word - wehre do you yo stop? You can't call Gypsies 'Gypsies' as that is politically incorrect, Roma is the right description, how long will this reamin politically correct? What has the world come to? I'm English (albeit half Greek) perhaps then I should take offence of someone calling me English, even if I was 100% English.
    A big subject nightcabcontroller, and a ridiclous scenario has developed because of over sensativity, that was my point. I am basically for political correctness, but against 'extreme' and 'nonsensical' political correctness, it is in the main a political maneouver to a popular vote getter for politicians in areas that have many enthic monorities. Everything is based upon this.
    I agree with your point of the origins of 'policital correctness' but anything in extreme defeats the object.
    Can I also point out that these policies were another reason for me getting out of the UK!!

  4. This subject warrants a blog of its own!!!
    As for Lina's point:"even if done without malice", and your point about "oversensitivity", I think we should look back in history, and ask ourselves some questions...Are we saying that the status quo should be maintained forever ---in the use of language, even as our world changes???(Compare Shakespearean English to that of today!)
    I agree that there are some ridiculous extremes of PC, but do not ridicule others' sensitivity , because you have not had their experiences--what is trivial to one group may be serious to another....There may be a blog or forum on PC already, I'll do a search....

  5. I just found your site on Entrecards. I am an American Expat living in Davao, Philippines. I enjoy reading about other expats and how they assimilate in their new home country as I do in my site.
    I visited Bulgaria a few years ago and loved the people and the country. I saw many parts of the country with my friend. I do not remember all the places but we were based in Plovdiv and I loved the old city.
    I hope you will read blog and comment if something strikes you to do so.



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