A Bulgarian-Turkish Winter

“Winter is coming.” Does this sentence sound familiar to you? I’m pretty sure it does; if not, you should definitely search “Game of Thrones” and watch all the seasons! But, leaving the fiction and the imaginary worlds aside, we can say, indeed, that the winter of 2014-2015 is here.
And the opinions about winter differ from one person to another. Some people just hate winter and its cold and rainy days. However, some of us love this ‘magical’ season. We see it as an opportunity to enjoy, in many places, white carpets of soft and cool snow, a hot cup of tea with friends and family, and the unconditional love of our warm blankets and a good movie on the sofa on a rainy day. But, maybe, this is the perception that I have about winter because of my cultural background. This perception may be similar to yours, or not.

In Bulgaria, where I was born, live people from different nationalities and backgrounds. But one of this groups, the Turkish population, is particularly distinctive. Indeed, there is a large population of “Turkish” people, whose nationality is actually Bulgarian, but they have deep Turkish roots. They settled and have been living in Bulgaria for generations, since the Balkan wars in 1912 and 1913. After the war, they just decided to stay in Bulgaria, instead of going back to Turkey as most of the Turkish did. And my family was one of those that decided to stay in Bulgaria, but preserving the Turkish language and culture with all its traditions and customs.

So when I think of winter in Bulgaria, now that I live in a foreign country, a lot of memories about my family comes to my mind, especially considering how important family bonds are in the Turkish culture. And winter seems to be the perfect time to be with the family.

On one hand, due to the cold weather we tend to stay at home and enjoy the hit of the fireplace. But, what makes a Turkish home warmer, even with the extremely cold Bulgarian weather (sometimes reaching 30ºC below zero) is, again, family. On the other hand, it’s very popular among the Turkish population in Bulgaria the sacrifice of animals, such as cows and lambs, especially in winter. But these ‘rituals’ imply another ‘ritual’, this time a social one, involving big meetings with the family, where you can feel the love and respect of every member.

So, what happens when you melt Bulgarian and Turkish winters? I would say that Bulgaria is a beautiful country and even more beautiful in winter, when it is all covered with snow, from the smallest village to the highest mountain of the iconic Balkan Peninsula. If you add the warm familiar atmosphere as another ingredient to the recipe, you will get a proper Bulgarian-Turkish Winter!

By: Angel Metodief



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