Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 24th: "The Most Bulgarian of Days"

"Are you ready to celebrate Bulgaria in the old Communist way?" A 12th class student waved his fisted arm like an old American "gee swell" kind of way, grinning at his own joke. Most of the school was gathered at 9:30am on a Saturday morning in the school yard, milling around and talking, waiting for the signal that it was time to march. We would march to the center of the city and parade as a school with all the other schools from the town. Marching and flowers and parades and bands playing are left overs from communist celebrations, definitely.

"It is the most Bulgarian of days!" he continued. "Everyone is happy on May 24th!" And he looked to be right. Students were giving their teacher's flowers. Everyone was dressed to impress. There were lots of hugs and shouting. Anticipation.

May 24th is the Day of Slavic Languages. It is in honor of Saints Cyril and Methodius who first invented the Cyrillic alphabet (St Cyril... Cyrillic... get it? I don't know why Methodius gets left out). It's also become a celebration of all things Culture, especially education.

"In fact, I don't know why it isn't THE Bulgarian holiday, like a better Independence Day." I pointed out that this was because Bulgaria wasn't the only country who celebrated their language on this day; Russia and Macedonia are two other countries that Wikipedia lists as honoring the day.

But I can see why he thought that this should be the case. Lots of people had Bulgarian flags (with a few EU thrown in there). And the entire town was waiting in the center, ready for the show. Everyone was there. I'd never seen the square that full. We couldn't move until the school was given their turn.  Students from the language school, my school, in their restlessness, organized cheers of E-zee-ko-va! which means "Language".

Marching was infectious. I couldn't stop grinning. I moved through the crowd to see my students and to say hello. We exchanged enthusiastic hugs. Chesteet Praznik! Happy Holiday! And we were happy.

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