Happy Christmas or Весела Коледа to you all!
I wasn’t in Bulgaria for Christmas but I am told that traditionally Bulgarians celebrate Christmas by:
– Doing a ‘fast’ or пости for 40 days before Christmas, during which a vegan diet should be followed.
– On 24 December, having a vegan meal with family. There should be an odd number of dishes, usually including:
- Sarmi, which were originally described to me as ‘fermented cabbage’ but are actually a dish not dissimilar to Greek dolma, except that cabbage rather than vine leaves are stuffed with rice and other vegetables. In the run up to Christmas, if you go to fruit and vegetable markets, you can see barrels filled with cabbages that have been pickled whole.
- Beans – always a favourite dish with Bulgarians and apparently even more so at Christmas.
- Tikvanik or pumpkin pastry. Delicious.
– On 25 December, eating meat for the first time since October! Most families eat pork, the most popular meat in Bulgaria, but all types of meat are eaten, including Turkey.