Why Bulgarians Drink Rakija?
The rakija! This is the fire spirit of Bulgaria! Our elixir! Those who say that chocolate lifts up the mood, probably haven’t tried Bulgarian homemade rakija or just haven’t drink enough of it. She has a unique aroma, a soft and nice taste. It is made, after the fermented fruits are subjected to distillation (boiling). According to the archeologist Boris Tsvetanov, who determines himself as a rakija expert, the rakija is an invention of the Bulgarians. In excavations were found appliances for distillation of rakija from 11th century! The Bulgarian ingenuity is unbeatable! This is why the fruits for rakija can be any, as long as they are ripe. Rakija can be boiled even from rose leafs. It is called “gyolovitsa”. It is possible the drink to be spiced with honey or forest herbs. The important thing is to have a degree! The people have said: “If there is a degree, there is joy!” The fun starts over the 40th, that’s why in the shops it is that much, but the homemade can be up to 80% alcohol content, and even more….
The answer of the question “why we drink it?” is coded from centuries in the name, made of words from the dictionary of the old Bulgarians: “ra”, which means sun, god, wield; “ki” – inner energy and “ja” – I. When it is red, it turns out “I wield my inner energy”. This happens with smaller quantities. When consumed more seriously, the energy rises and gets quite bigger, it manifests in shouting, surge, dancing or singing and that’s how it contributes to the improvement of folklore. Then the word “rakija” has another reading – “The inner energy wields me”. The difference between the two translations is around 500 grams of rakija. Before drinking, people knock with their cups, look each other in the eyes and say “Cheers!”. This way the knocking is bringing people closer from the first sight and rakija turns into a cure for the soul, a key for the sharing of spirit, and drinking with a friend replaces the sessions with the psychotherapist. With rakija is more enjoyable and less expensive. This is how the Bulgarians save up. It is art to make a good rakija, but the knowledge with who and how to drink it is acquired with the toasts through the years. To have 1 glass of rakija at night is not only healthy, but also little…The elixir is a balsam for the soul and cure for the body for every decease, injuries and pathological conditions. The folk wisdom says: “If it can’t be cured with rakija, it is incurable”. Often the rakija is used with preventive purpose, for mental and physical stability. For courage in critical life situations like: a wedding proposal, meeting with the mother-in-law, first wedding nights, cheating and others. It is applied when lifting weights, running, jumping, fence jumping, rowing with a spoon and others… This is how it contributes to the improvement of the national sport. In a summary: the rakija is drinked with joy, with sadness, to be happy or not to suffer. It always warms the soul. If you want to relive the Bulgarian fire spirit, drink from our rakija! Cheers!
MEng. Ginka Stoeva, PhD