Though family is everything to Bulgarians, friends are as important – if not more so. In a country notorious for its challenging politics and shifting social climate, having the right friends to rely on is crucial. Here’s what to expect if your best friend is Bulgarian.
If you need to go to the doctor but there’s a huge line at their door, rest easy – there’s no need to work your way through War and Peace while waiting your turn. Instead, all you have to do is ask your Bulgarian friend for help. If he or she isn’t a doctor, then they will definitely have a friend who is a doctor, which means that after a brief phone call you’ll be examined as a priority case. Be warned that this works both ways though – people with priority are often one of the main reasons for hours-long lines.
If you’re dating a loser, Bulgarians will tell you. If you try to ignore them, they will go on. This is not because they want to interfere in your personal life, as it may seem to a foreigner, but because they consider themselves the best people to nudge you to be the best version of yourself.
Homemade food is a big thing in Bulgaria. Many people produce a lot of their own food – compotes, jams, homemade ketchup, wine, rakia, you name it – and they take pride in it. When you invite them over for dinner, they will usually bring a bottle of their granny’s special secret-recipe cherry liqueur or a jar of lyutenitsa as a gift.
Even if your friend is a true citizen of the world, chalga music is a fundamental part of every Bulgarian. Bulgarians can’t be indifferent to chalga – they either love it or hate it. This style of music is known for its provocative lyrics and videos, hypnotic beats, and topics close to everyone’s heart (heartbreak, desire for success, dreams of a glamorous life, etc.). You will need a lot of tuition to acquire the flexibility in your hips needed to dance it right, but that’s what friends are for!
Friendship is far from superficial here; people share their innermost thoughts in such detail, that it can scare a foreigner at the beginning. Be prepared to listen for hours about their hopes for love or the latest office gossip, and most importantly, to support them no matter what. Of course, you’re expected to offer the same deep honesty in exchange.
Even if you call at 2am and say you need to talk… well, most probably they will ask why didn’t you come straight to their place. If your best friend is Bulgarian, their home is your home and you can show up anytime.
It’s no secret that Bulgaria is one of the poorest countries in Europe – Bulgarians, however, have turned this problem on its head by being ultra-creative in the fun department. If no one has money, it doesn’t mean you all stay at home bored – Bulgarians always come up with creative cheap or free fun ideas when it comes to spending time with friends.
Drinking like a Bulgarian is a whole art in itself in a country popular for its high alcohol consumption per capita. Bulgarians, even women, drink a lot, most of them every day – but it doesn’t mean they are always drunk. A regular alcohol intake actually makes them quite resistant to its effects.
Among the many foreign words that have made their way into the contemporary Bulgarian language, ‘merci‘ is the one that probably perplexes foreigners the most. Bulgarians do have their own word for ‘thank you’ but in everyday communication the long and more official ‘blagodarya‘ is often replaced with the short and informal ‘merci‘.
Bulgarians, along with all Balkan people, are famed for their creativity when it comes to swearing. We’ll spare you the examples here, so we can leave all the pleasure to your Bulgarian best friend.
Friends are of the utmost importance in Bulgaria, and taking sides when circumstances require it is a common thing here. This is how you might find yourself gaining a few unexpected enemies, too!