Vagabond chose the 10 nominations for the symbol of Bulgaria contest in a poorly organised brainstorming session, which took place with copious amounts of homemade rakiya, a cloud of cigarette smoke and in the company of several mutri and scantily clad chalga-loving girls.

Apparently this is how one of our readers – a Bulgarian living in Bremen – imagines that we selected the 10 finalists for the Symbols of Bulgaria@Vagabond campaign. "What I want to criticise is a very narrow perception of Bulgaria. All 'symbols' are merely more than mentioning clichés. To find something truly unique and recognisable is not that easy, but I think you owe it to your readers... something like: 'Ey sega'. Well done on that!"

In response, we would like to point out that in this case we are just the messengers. As we don't live in the Middle Ages – where most Bulgarians seem to be drawing their national pride from – we don't expect to be killed for bringing bad news. All we can say is "well done" to all readers who responded to our request and sent us their proposals for symbols of Bulgaria. We merely short-listed the 10 most popular ones.

Of course, many interesting suggestions didn't make the final cut. We offer a few of them below. One Vagabond reader from London suggested "rehabilitated dancing bears, their park and the information centre. This initiative should set an example for other countries. For example, in the Canaries, monkeys are still treated in this degrading way."

"I think a symbol should be made up of opposites. The sun and the snow. The majestic mountains and the fertile plains. Forests and fields of sunflowers. These are the things I imagine when I think of Bulgaria," one reader wrote.

"My suggestions are a broken pavement; a long queue at a counter while 15 other positions have women reading newspapers; a miserable shop assistant, either smoking or on her mobile," suggested another.

"A modern characteristic of Bulgaria is the myriad of television channels that broadcast folk music with traditional costumes and dances all day long. I have never seen folk culture so actively promoted on television," an email told us.

"Zheravna is a small village, an architectural reserve in the eastern part of the Stara Planina Mountain. About 200 wooden houses are preserved in good shape and are older than the United States," proposed a Bulgarian subscriber.

Another email argued: "I think the most popular Bulgarian symbol was, is and will be Bay Ganyo and his creator Aleko Konstantinov. Bay Ganyo really exists and represents all the good and all the bad in the Bulgarian way of life and culture."


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