idiomatic expressions and proverbs into English.
The current section of KQ has the ambition to explain the jargon of Bulgarian politics and economy which sometimes is as inexplicable if literally translated as in the above mentioned phrases. Who's Cecoron? Or what "Tsvetan thoughts" means and what for the love of god ladybirds have to do with management?
When Gender is Mainstreamed
definition: The Convention on preventing and combating violence against women has opened an unexpected and toxic public debate about values in Bulgaria.
Bulgarian society sank into a deep state of moral panic this winter after the government put forward a motion to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (commonly known as the Istanbul Convention).
Although the document was signed in 2011 and came into force in 2014, very few people in the country were aware of it until the end of last year, when 30 organizations describing themselves as conservative upholders of the traditional family sent an open letter to the Parliament arguing that by ratifying the convention Bulgaria would introduce the concept of
"gender as a social construct, different from the biological sex". This would, in turn, basically unleash hell, according to the many voices that suddenly opposed the document. These included former supporters of the convention, like the Bulgarian Socialist Party, and the Orthodox Church, and the newlyfound defenders of traditional values like United Patriots and President Rumen Radev. The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church even called for a mass prayer against the convention, which, they claimed would lead to the "spiritual death" of the nation once it was ratified.
The text in the convention reading that "gender" shall mean the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for women and men", somehow was interpreted as an attempt to introduce "treti pol", or "a third sex" (whatever that would mean). This interpretation was made easy by the fact that there is no exact Bulgarian equivalent of the word "gender" in the meaning used in the convention.
Moreover, the opponents of the convention said that by ratifying it Bulgaria agrees to allow same-sex marriage (God forbid!) and grant refugee status to "all Iranian transvestites who are persecuted in their country". Most importantly, they said, the convention will introduce gender neutral education in schools, meaning that girls and boys will be taught that being gay and/or transvestite is normal! definition: When Gender is Mainstreamed The Convention on preventing and combating violence against women has opened an unexpected and toxic public debate about values in Bulgaria.
Police helping one's suicide
definition: А mass murder case reveals yet again people's distrust of public authorities
Bulgarian humor has its very dark and cynical side. A New Year's eve mass murder of a family and the tragicomical investigation by the law enforcement institutions that ensued made some people wonder if the police hasn't helped the murderer commit suicide in order to prevent a public investigation. The word "samoubit", which would literally translate as something like "suicided" and had been coined to convey the notion of public mistrust in the official version of the events, came back to fashion decades after it first became popular in the mob years of the late 1990s and early 2000s when the public suspected police was behind many murders and suicides of mobsters.
And it's hard to blame the people's imagination - the law enforcement agencies, and especially their top echelon could not resist the excessive media attention and turned the sensitive investigation into a 24/7 televised farce. Versions changed all the time, depending on whether it was the Prosecutor General or the Minister of the Interior giving yet another press conference. Media coverage itself was atrocious, with one journalist writing to a family member over Facebook, asking
them how they felt. Dozens of ex-police officers, government ministers, high- and low-ranking officials frequented TV studios and websites for a week, giving opinions on a murder case with no concrete information about.
A week after the tragedy, after the police had turned upside down the whole region around the crime site, the 56-year old suspected murderer was found dead in a log cabin just 500 meters away from his own house. The official version was
suicide but the fact that the man supposedly shot himself in the head with a gun with a silencer raised eyebrows, with people sharing the news over the Internet with a comment that, after such an investigation, a suicide of the suspect spares the authorities some awkward explanations. Of course, there are no proofs of that theory. Yet, the way the case was handled explains why some believe the authorities have something to hide.
When folklore turns too popular
definition: The men's dance in the ice-cold waters of the river Tundzha pushes the thin boundary between folklore and kitsch.
"You can't destroy a nation, whose men dance in ice-cold waters", said a popular meme that spread at the beginning of January. Even if you haven't seen it, if you live in Bulgaria or have Bulgarian friends, you must have seen a picture of dozens of men, dressed in folklore attire, dancing the traditional "horo" dance, waist deep in the icy waters of the Tundzha river. The all-men horo in Kalofer, central Bulgaria, marks Epiphany, the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river and Yordanov den (Yordan's day after the name of the river in Bulgarian), one of the most popular name days in the country.
According to people who revere its cultural significance, like controversial historian and ex-head of National History Museum Bozhidar Dimitrov, it's an Ottoman era tradition to show off masculinity and dominance over the men from local villages.
According to actual historians like Asya Nikolova, director of the local museum in Kalofer, the tradition dates back just to the 1970s. Whatever the truth is, public imagination had taken over the majko horo and each year hundreds of people come to the mountain town to witness it and, sometimes, try to join it. Dozens of cameras pile up next to the river, spreading the feat across TV channels, newspapers and the Internet. People share images over social media, as they find
in them a proof for the prodigious strength and resilience of the Bulgarian nation.
Unfortunately, popularity did not come without its downsides: there were several incidents recorded of local dancers getting into fights with guests, which led to dividing the horo dances into two parts - one for the men of the town and
another for the outsiders. Secondly, copycat ice water dances started popping up elsewhere as well, angering the originators of the tradition. Last, but not least, some of the locals themselves decried the commercialization of the event and protested against it. It will take some time until Bulgarians find a way to combine their traditions and modernity.