by Anthony Georgieff

Parliament adopts law to streamline Bulgarian days off

One of Bulgaria's oddest quirks, the Council of Ministers passing decrees every year to "combine" holidays, is about to change.

The new holidays act, which the current parliament passed in December, intends to terminate the practice of combining holidays, which sometimes resulted in as many as seven-eight days off, especially in spring, when Bulgarians celebrate 1 May (the Communist-era Labour Day) and 6 May (the Christian Orthodox St George's Day), and in early Autumn, when 6 and 22 September are official bank holidays commemorating Unification and Independence respectively. Throw in as many as four days off for Easter and sometimes a whole week to "connect" Christmas with New Year's and you would be joining several million Bulgarians who constantly whine they live in the poorest EU economy but do enjoy the prolonged lunches, dinners and time offs that the government provides them with with the sole justification of enabling the population to relax more "efficiently."

Interestingly, some business days made days off in this manner had to be "worked" on preceding or following Saturdays. Knowing the work ethic of Bulgarians, especially in the civil service and the service sectors, it would not take a lot of imagination to see how "efficient" those Saturdays were.

Under the new legislation, holidays will be holidays on the exact day they fall – pretty simple and predictable with the exception of Easter, which is of course moveable in the calendar, but is always on a Sunday. To cushion the work blow, however, parliament decided that if a holiday fell on a Saturday and/or a Sunday, then the following Monday and/or Tuesday could be declared a bank holiday.

It seems puzzling at first, but here is a breakdown. In 2017, Bulgarians will officially not work in keeping with the following schedule. 2 January will be a day off as it is the Monday after New Year's. 3 March is an official bank holiday anyway. 14 and 17 April will be off (four days for Easter, which in Orthodox Bulgaria is on 16 April). 1 May, a Monday, is off anyway, but 8 May (also a Monday) will be off as well as St George's Day, 6 May, falls on a Saturday. 24 May, a Wednesday, is off anyway. 6 and 22 September are bank holidays on a Wednesday and Friday, so plenty of working days in September. Next Christmas will be 24, 25 and 26 December, with some MPs protesting that the following Wednesday, 27 December, should also be a day off because Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday.

Bulgarians will probably not mind as they, like everyone else in the Balkans, love to take a few days of work. However, the business community was displeased. Vasil Velev, the chairman of the Association of Industrial Capital, said as a result of the extra days off in 2017 Bulgaria's GDP would fall by 1 percent. To put it in plain language, every employee in Bulgaria would make 115 leva less in wages.

In an unusual move the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce sent a protest letter to the National Assembly in which it pointed out Bulgaria stood to lose about 1 billion leva as a result of the many holidays. Tim Kurt and Carmen Schtruck of the Deutsche-Bulgarische Industrie- und Handelskammer, the chamber that associates all German businesses in Bulgaria, pointed out that Germany also has a number of both fixed-date and moveable holidays that also sometimes fall on weekends. However, no German lawmaker would turn the following Monday into a bank holiday just as a compensation for the "unjust" calendar. If any German employee required to take an additional day off they could apply for paid leave.

It remains to be seen how businesses will apply the new legislation especially as after so many years of "combined" holidays Bulgarians have become used to longish breaks sometimes starting on a Thursday. According to the new act, the government will still be able to turn work days into bank holidays to commemorate important "historical, political, cultural and other" events.

Happy Bulgarian holidays!


    Commenting on

    Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

The fourth iteration of the OPEN BUZLUDZHA festival is scheduled to kick off on 8 August and will last for three nights/four days.

"We are fascists, we burn Arabs": the youngsters start chanting as soon as they emerge from the metro station and leave the perimeter of its security cameras.

Оne of the (many) notable things Marcus Tullius Cicero said over 20 centuries ago is that "to live is to think" – and if we are not ashamed of what we think we should not be ashamed to voice it.

Where are the Bulgarian Oscars? For years this question – coupled with the notable lack of a Bulgarian Nobel Prize winner in anything – has troubled the Bulgarians, perhaps bespeaking a very deeply ingrained cultural inferiority complex.

From job opportunities to entertainment options: living in Sofia, Bulgaria's largest city, has its perks. It also has its downsides.

"Dimitrina?" I have not heard from her for more than a month, which is unusual. "Почина." "Po-chi-na?" I type the word phonetically in an online translation tool. "What?" "Почина. Me, Dimitrina sister. Bye."
As an airplane is swooping over a field beside Sofia Airport, two horses and a donkey do not look up, but keep grazing among the rubbish. Shacks made of bricks, corrugated iron and wood encroach upon the field.

Everyday Superheroes was the main theme of the event, celebrating the efforts and the energy of ordinary Bulgarians who work in spite of the difficulties and the hardships to make Bulgaria a better place.

As you hold this book in your hands, a Bulgarian song travels in outer space. The song in question is "Izlel e Delyu Haidutin," a traditional Rhodope tune sung by Valya Balkanska.

Attar-bearing roses and beautiful girls in traditional attire picking them dominate the images that Bulgaria uses to sell itself to both Bulgarian and international tourists.

This May, for two days, historians, archaeologists, restorers and experts in other fields shared their findings and ideas about the Bishop's Basilica of Philippopolis at a scientific conference in Plovdiv.

Once you start paying attention to Bulgarians, you will observe some inexplicable actions. Dozens of men and women wear red thread around their wrists. An old woman cuddles a baby, and then spits at it.