The System of Socialist Holidays and Rituals in Bulgaria


Cultural management of the everyday life of the people by a clerical, intellectual or political elite has a long history. The attempts of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries at creating a "socialist way of life'' which includes an all embracing system of socialist holidays and rituals are presented as one of the most radical examples of cultural management by a political elite. In Bulgaria, the socialist holidays and rituals were developed in the early 1970s by commissions (which included ethnographers and folklorists). Detailed scenarios were tested on a regional basis, and in 1978 the ritual system was introduced nationwide. The example of socialist life cycle rituals demonstrates that in spite of persuasion and enforcement the rituals for the secular baptism (name-giving ), wedding, and funeral were accepted only partly and in a selective and adaptive manner, while other rituals (like the Handing out of the first ID) were not accepted. As a result of "negotiation" between the ruling elite and the people and of growing public criticism, the government reduced the number of holidays and rituals and the degree of obligation. The development since the political changes in late 1989 points to a return to traditional forms.

How to Cite

Roth, J. & Roth, K., (1989) “The System of Socialist Holidays and Rituals in Bulgaria”, Ethnologia Europaea 20(1), 107-120. doi:


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Juliana Roth (Universität München)
Klaus Roth (Universität München)



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