Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)


Bulgarian Liberation Day

Bulgarian Flag

135 years ago today, Bulgaria was liberated from 500 years of Ottoman rule.

As you can imagine, March 3rd is a very meaningful day in the country and most people celebrate in some way. Later this evening in Smolyan there will be a public gathering and fireworks display. Even with continued national protests and government strife, Bulgarians are proud of their country and heritage.

It is common to see statues and memorials of liberation heroes decorated with flower wreaths and handwritten notes of thanks. Yesterday, on our way to Rudozem, we passed the Polkovnik Serafimov monument–high in the mountains above Smolyan– and it was covered in beautiful flower arrangements.


Being married to a Bulgarian has made me feel much more invested in this country and its history. Our children will be half-Bulgarian and I want them to be proud of their heritage–on both sides.

To all of my Bulgarian friends and family, Happy Liberation Day!


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Bulgarian Liberation Day

On March 1st when I posted about Baba Marta, I forgot to mention an even more important Bulgarian holiday: Bulgarian Liberation Day.

Liberty Monument at Shipka

Today marks Bulgaria’s liberation from the Ottomans, who ruled the country for nearly 500 years. Liberation came on March 3rd, 1878, when the Treaty of San Stefano was signed by the Russian and Ottoman Empires outside of Istanbul.

After the Congress of Berlin took place a few months later; Bulgaria, a country ruled by the Ottomans since the 14th century, was now an independent nation.

Vince told me that people celebrate by placing flowers and notes at the many Liberation monuments around the country. Some also bust out the fireworks like Americans do on our own Independence Day, but the majority of people (especially in those towns and villages that saw battles during the 1877-78 battle for liberation) celebrate in a more subdued and reflective way.

Google even marked the occasion today with its Google Logo featuring the Bulgarian flag and the monument in Shipka (on Google BG)

In my opinion, however, being freed from a tax-hungry and over-zealous king thousands of miles away pales in comparison to the freeing of a nation that had been occupied by another empire for almost 500 years.

Now, don’t think me unpatriotic. I am proud to be American and I know the sacrifices our country and its founders when through so that we could be the country we are today. It just boggles my mind when I think about how a country like Bulgaria was largely able to retain its own traditions and culture after having been occupied by the Turks for nearly half a millennium.

America was born after our liberation from the English, we didn’t have centuries upon centuries of history and a national identity prior to that like the Bulgarians did.

I know the two situations have little in common, It just got me thinking about my own country’s history and struggles.

Bulgaria’s Tsar Ferdinand officially declared the country’s independence from the Ottoman Empire on September 22, 1908 in the old Bulgarian capital of Tarnovo. This date is celebrated annually as the nation’s Independence Day.

I am still learning about the many holidays here in BG, so if any of this info is off or I stated something incorrectly, please feel free to correct me in the comment. I know how fiercely proud Bulgarians are of their liberation and independence, so I would hate to offend anyone!

I am a huge history buff, so learning about Bulgarian history is very interesting to me.