Finish your bread with lyutenitsa, then you can go play
While this is more something you’d hear Bulgarian grandparents say, a slice of bread with a tomato spread called lyutenitsa is an all-time classic in Bulgaria when it comes to fuelling those all-important play sessions. It’s what every Bulgarian child knows and loves from an early age.
No, there is no internet connection in your granny’s village
Most Bulgarian grandparents live in a village after they retire. These are no Swiss villages though – many of them have a declining or vanishing population, bad transport connections, and very old houses. Children are often sent to their grandparents in the villages for the summer vacation, where the idea is that they can play outdoors and enjoy the fresh air – unless they take their smartphones and tablets, of course.
Come dip your finger in a glass of rakia
It’s something of a tradition that when you’re young and your father pours a glass of rakia (the local strong spirit), he’ll ask you to come and dip your finger in the glass, and then lick it to see if you like it. He’d never pour a full glass to his infant child of course, but seems to just want to check how you’d react to the taste.
Don’t eat that off the floor… oh, whatever!
While it would be completely untrue to imagine that all Bulgarian kids eat everything found on the floor and their parents just watch indifferently, there is a strong belief that having a few germs are good for a child’s immune system. As adults, kids are filled with gratitude for this when they go to Southeast Asia and discover that they can eat all the street food they want without having any stomach trouble.
That man is speaking English – go see what he wants
Bulgarian parents grew up in Socialist times and studied mainly Russian at school. English was taught at very few schools as it was considered a ‘language of imperialism’. After the democratic changes in 1989, however, English became the main foreign language taught in schools, which means that when there’s a situation where an English speaker is needed, parents ask their children to deal with it.
You’re crying because you fell off that branch? A spanking’s what you need
Bulgarian parents, even though quite mild in their parenting style, can at times still be somewhat rough and merciless. When they’ve told their kid a thousand times not to climb that branch, but he does and then falls off, it means they’ll inevitably spank the kid well, so he’ll never again think of not listening to them again. Which, of course, never happens.
Can you hear me? The Skype connection’s really bad
This phrase can be heard in families where the kids were sent to study abroad. The main means of connection between parents and kids until recently was Skype, because international calls were too expensive for long conversations.
When I was your age, I was married with three kids!
The generation of Bulgarian parents during Socialist times used to get married at an early age (around 20 years old) and the current trend of not getting married before your 30s is something some of them find difficult to accept. To many parents, it seems as if their kids are wasting their time, even if they’re only 25 years old and enjoying life.