The magic word AZBUKA (the Bulgarian for Alphabet) comes from the first two letters in the Glagolitic – AZ and BUKI. AZ – as self-consciousness and originally as GOD. BUKI – like the letters (the Bulgarian word for letters is Buki) you express your thoughts with and that you follow the divine plan. The Bulgarian alphabet is a tale of literacy, goodness, thought, holiness and science “as the sun”. This is the APOTHEOSIS of KNOWLEDGE. The same is true of the great brothers Cyril and Methodius – the creators of knowledge, cognition, the joy of the mind and of the existence. Only the alphabet and the faith unite one nation and give it resistance.

“Those who see Bulgaria as a somewhat new country, those who have heard of the Balkans be called as only “the gunpowder vault of Europe” may not remember that Bulgaria was once a mighty kingdom and a player in the great policy of medieval Europe. The absence of historical knowledge deprives the superficial Western observer of the idea of what Bulgaria is, what its deep spiritual structures are (…) The entire Orthodox Slavic world has lived for centuries with the cultural heritage, largely created in Bulgaria as a creation of the Bulgarians … “

These are the words of the famous Italian slavist – Professor Sante Graciotti, one of the European scientists, who studied the contribution of Bulgarians in the structure of European civilization. Before the “Cherga” Magazine – quoted by our historiographer, researcher and university lecturer – Professor Plamen Pavlov. We met him on the eve of May 24th to remind us of the two Brothers’ creations and the enormous role of our country in the cultural and educational processes in Medieval Europe. Out of all controversies, the foundations of this Christian, Proto-Bulgarian civilization in its genesis were established by the two monks, writers, scholars and Christian missionaries – Constantine Cyril Philosopher (827-869) and Methodius (815-885), he maintains.


The Methodius and Constantine brothers were born in Thessaloniki – the second largest and most important political and cultural center of the Byzantine Empire. “By mother and by father, we read in the verbose hagiography of Methodius – they were of a very good and honourable family, long known to God and to the King ( the Emperor) …” The brothers were the sons of the Byzantine senior officer Leon / Leo and Maria, originating from the local Bulgarian-Slavic aristocracy.

 In 855, Constantine created the so-called Glagolitic, in whose symbolism, principles and overall conception his extraordinary knowledge and talent were manifested. There is the opinion that precisely this alphabet was initially called “the Cyrillic”. Thus, the term “Cyrillic” has become synonymous with the term “alphabet”, which is why the later Bulgarian graphic system “took away” its name. Apart from the importance of the alphabet issue, the essence of the Cyril and Methodius creation is the language. There is no serious and objective scientist who does not recognize that it is the language of medieval Bulgarians.


The alphabet, called “Cyrillic”, is an original Bulgarian phenomenon. It occurs around the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 10th century and its emergence was not accidental, given the use of the Greek alphabet (the so-called Uncial) by the Bulgarian state power in the 7th-8th century. The hypothesis that it was created by St. Clement of Orkhida (respectively, it could be called “the Clementics”!) has not been confirmed by the monuments, known today. Most likely, Clement has perfected the alphabet by applying the so-called round(ed), (“spherical”) Glagolitic.

Obviously the Cyrillic alphabet was imposed in direct connection with the centuries-old use of the Greek letters and language in the administration of the First Bulgarian Kingdom. Let us recall that in that epoch, the letters were used for all mathematical, respectively financial operations and “accounts”. In that area, the Glagolitic had probably caused difficulties. To the 24 Greek letters were added the typical Bulgarian sounds (“b”, “zh”, “ch”, “sh”, “sht”, etc.), which was in direct connection with the principles and solutions, implemented with the Glagolitic. The two alphabets were used alongside in Bulgaria for about two centuries, with the Cyrillic alphabet gradually replacing the Glagolitic.

Boris-Michael and his son, the King and the intellectual – Simeon the Great (893-927) placed the cultural and religious reform in the center of state ideology and politics. Then came the “Golden Age” of Bulgaria, at the established cultural centers in Veliki Preslav and Ohrid was boiling creative activity, which had world-wide historical dimensions. Bulgaria, one of the three military and political “Great Forces” in early medieval Europe, was rapidly turning into a “Great Power” of the European Christian culture as well. As a result of the powerful Bulgarian spiritual and cultural broadcasting in Orthodox Europe (The Kievan Rus and its inherited principals, Serbia, Wallachia, Moldova, Lithuania), the Old Bulgarian became the third classic language of medieval Europe.


The ascension of the Holy brothers as equal apostles and great Christian teachers took place in Bulgaria with the arrival of their disciples (886). The cult to them was later maintained and developed by the Ohrid Archbishopric and the Tarnovo Patriarchate. In the Age of Ottoman domination, when the Bulgarian state disappeared from the political map of Europe, it remained the “state of spirit”, as the Russian scientist, Academic Dimitriy Lichachov – named it. Its foundations were established by the alphabet and the language of Cyril and Methodius. The Holy Brothers were an emanation of the Bulgarian struggle for ecclesiastical and political independence. As early as 1851, their day – 11th/24th of May, transformed from a church holiday to the brightest expression of national identity, of the Bulgarian admiration for education, science and culture.

Today, the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius are recognized as spiritual teachers by the entire Christian world. Over the centuries, they have become a symbol of Russian culture and public aspirations, even of Russian self-rule … In addition, the Holy Brothers are a flag of Slavonic revival and national emancipation in the Czech Republic and other Slavic countries. Without being popular in Byzantium, under the influence of the Bulgarian cult, they were proclaimed as saints by the Orthodox Church and outside the Slavic world, including modern Greece. In the end of the 20th century, Pope John Paul II declared them “patrons of Europe.” Dozens of peoples, especially in the Russian cultural and political space of the twentieth century, perceived the Cyrillic as a script in their national languages.

The Day 11 (in the old style), and today, the 24th of May, was celebrated in many countries (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, etc.), yet the deep roots of this tradition are in Bulgaria. In Bulgaria and nowhere else! Exclusively in Bulgaria this day is not only officially celebrated, but also an intellectual gesture of the state to honoured personalities, an actual people’s celebration, the most indisputable and accepted by all.

The anthem as a phenomenon

There is a phenomenon in Bulgaria that has no exact analogy anywhere else in the world – a song that does not yield to the national anthem as a suggestion, as a power and expression of the national feeling … A Hymn that starts with the words: “Go, reborn and revived people!”

Author: Vanina Todorova

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