The Symbol of Bulgaria

10 September 2008

A month after the national campaign to appoint the official symbol of Bulgaria ended, in which a historical monument was elected that the majority of foreign visitors have little or no idea of, discussions about the actual symbol of this small Balkan country continue with even more fervour than during the ten months of collecting voters preferences and recommendations. As our colleagues from Vagabond attempted to introduce, to both foreigners and English-speaking Bulgarians, their selection of would-be-symbols, amongst which are featured a few outstanding negativisms of Bulgaria, many publications in foreign and local media have once again posed the question of the real symbol of Bulgaria.

The issue of real and reality itself will inevitably start us into a ceaseless philosophical argument of whose the authority to appoint what is to be regarded as the real thing a few distinguished individuals or the democratic masses hence the essence of the ongoing heated debate relating to the right the English have to meddle with our symbols. Whether or not those alien to Bulgarian culture should be allowed to appoint its symbol is a question that borders the narrowness of nationalism on the one side and the broad-mindedness of the cosmopolitan on the other. Whichever side one is to take, they are always set to receive the harsh criticism of the opponents, perhaps more so from the nationalistic-minded than from those with an inclination to the overall grasping of notions and ideas.

Scanning various Bulgarian forums (because sure you can read the English-language ones yourselves), we came upon a variety of opinions on the issue, from the enraged to the apathetic.

A good idea [to elect a symbol]. But why dont they make it in the UK? Obviously the warm welcome they get here in Bulgaria is not enough, and now they are mocking us! Let them hit the road and stop ridiculing our reality. Is everything there perfect? They robbed half the world and now everything is easy for them! They must go away!

I do not understand why Bulgarias national symbol should be discussed by foreigners!? This is our own national issue!

If they dont like it, why do they come to Bulgaria to live? Go away they must! We dont like a lot of things in their country but we dont make fun of that. Do me a favour!

I am going to start a lawsuit against this Vagabond, for insulting my national pride; we [Bulgarians] may be anything, but this is not a question to be answered by foreigners who came to live in Bulgaria. I cant understand why they stay in Bulgaria if they dont like it.

You people, have you not got national pride?! They haven't got a perfect world, do they, but they hide their dirty linen, while all we do is expose ours. Why don't you give it a thought? What Bulgarians are you?!

Oh, you are all so stupid failing to understand what the symbol of Bulgaria is! For those who didnt get it, I will say it again: it is Cunning Peter, smoking a cigar in his AMG with a red rose on his ear, a wad of 20 leva bills in hand buying gypsy votes in the neighbourhood. A pit-bull with a golden leash on its neck is sitting on the front seat next to him.

The headless horseman is the symbol that best fits Bulgaria the state is tearing downhill beheaded by the Communists down towards the swamps.

This could, naturally, go on for ages. There are hundreds, thousands even of similar opinions. But what is more important, they will never agree with each other. It is a trait most outstanding in the character of your average Bulgarian that he will never back out; he will never admit he was wrong. And he will never say Im sorry. The best you could hope for is a muttered Opa-a which is Bulgarian for Oops. We can put this exclamation of awkwardness right next to the Ey sega [in a while, very soon] choice of our colleagues; both can be heard equally frequently if you deal with almost any of the representatives of a nation, most of whose members will be normally guided by the motto of Who are you to teach me?! I know better!

Personally I can see no point in electing the Madara Rider, a rock carving that is 1300 years old and is the proud symbol of a state that once stood powerful spanning the greater part of the Balkans, reaching as far north as Belorussia, a state that had Byzantium paying taxes for centuries. The might and glory of that distant past are long gone now. Today this is a country where the average young man knows little or nothing of its national heroes (by the way the only handful of men who stood out from a mass of submissive and treacherous individuals), and the average politician does all sort of dirty deeds right under the stern looks of Levski and Botev, whose pictures hang forlorn and unheeded on the walls of ministerial offices. But I cant see any point in electing any symbol at all, because there is never one single feature that can be deemed recognizable by many or by all.

It is a tough choice to make: sex bombs walking down the street, trying to attract the attention of bullies riding in their BMWs, Porsches or Lamborghinis, while talking on a phone they have no idea what the gazillion features of mean; stray dogs or stray people tumbling in the darkness of a bright future that will never come; donkey and horse carts or the insane drivers who are so self-conceited that they run people over while bedazzled by their own power. Or Nature, whose bountiful resources 95% of the people would gladly swap for a handful of cash.

I do not know which of these, or which of the remains of a proud past that turned into dust under the feet of its own people, is more worthy of representing Bulgaria before the world.

Or wait, I think I know My personal choice falls on the 5-village mega luxurious first ecological complex in Bulgaria, the Black Sea Gardens that our dear Prime Ministers brother is going to build, investing 1 billion euros, that is 1,000,000,000 euros, meanwhile destroying one of the few remaining virgin pieces of coastland in Bulgaria, which most accidentally falls inside the Natura 2000 network. No questions asked. This is the symbol of Bulgaria.