This post is targeted at my international friends. I wanted to share some of my home country’s traditions, connected to Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I am in no way saying these are the only ones or the most important ones, I am just sharing what we do in our family and I hope you’ll find this interesting.
Dinner on Christmas Eve (24th December)
I believe the way we celebrate Christmas eve is typically Bulgarian – as far as I know the Russian speaking part of the world (which is mostly ortodox just like us) doesn’t follow the same tradition.
On the table on Christmas Eve there is a fairly big variety of vegan dishes (very important – no meat, no dairy!) – they are supposed to be 7, 9, 11 or 12. Now, if you think you can’t overeat with vegan meals, look at the picture and think again!
By having such an abundant dinner we try to illustrate how rich the harvest was and to appreciate everything which is given to us by the nature. Of course, the meaning is quite symbolic considering that the majority of us lives in the city, which means we don’t actually grow anything by ourselves. But still, you will very rarely come across a family which doesn’t follow this tradition.
The bread without yeast is a mandatory part of the dinner. There is a coin hidden inside which brings luck and (supposedly money) to whoever finds it. It is common to see beans or lentils, fresh or dried fruits, typical (and loved!) salads such as ‘turshija’ (picture here) and ‘lyutenica’ (wiki link) as well as ‘sarmi’ (cabbage or grape leaves stuffed with rice).
“Find your luck” on New year’s Eve
This is probably my favourite part of the celebration.
This dish is called ‘banitsa’ (wiki link) – the basic part consists of layered filo pastry and cheese, in our family we like to put oil (which has been left to boil) to make it crunchy and to finish it off with a mixture of whisked eggs and sparkling water to get this wonderful plump look 😀 (Yes, I love this to death, in case you haven’t understood that yet!) There are many variations – you can even put spinach or pumpkin inside.
It doesn’t matter how it looks, what is important is ‘finding your luck’ – this is a wish for the new year, written on a piece of paper and hidden in every piece so that everyone chooses a piece and gets ‘a luck’. ‘The lucks’ may be serious or funny, rhymed or not, long as a poem or just a line. What you would usually include is “a new car”, “a baby”, “wedding”, “a trip abroad”, “money”, “health”, “education”. What I got this year was “achievement in sport” and “love”, which is perfect because it is exactly what I had planned.
If you like the idea of getting a wish for the new year, you could always find a way to incorporate it into your culture and to adjust it to your taste – Muffins are the perfect solution, don’t you think?
Dear friends, if you found this interesting, please share some of the traditons in your home country! I highly appreciate everything which helps expanding my horizons!