9 September, People’s Republic of Bulgaria

The day when the Red Army entered Bulgaria in 1944 and the Communist Party grabbed power came to be celebrated as the national holiday during Communist rule.

Headlines in the party organ the following day, in 1982, say: “The people pays tribute to Bulgaria’s greatest day. Holiday parade by Sofia’s workers on the occasion of the 38th anniversary of the Socialist Revolution” and “Tempestuous, dynamic development”.

Celebrations were to a certain extent modelled on Soviet celebrations of the October Revolution as performed in Red Square in Moscow: the Bulgarian Politbureau would greet the masses from a podium in front of Georgi Dimitrov’s mausoleum.

However, in this case, there were no military parades.

"Crazy shows of stupidity"

A recollection by Emilija Christova, a 42 year-old lawyer from Varna, on the website “I lived socialism”, (Spomeniteni.org, website no longer availabile), describes a celebration (in May, but on the same pattern) from the side of the masses. It is entitled “Attack with Roses, or The Inanity Called Parades”.

“If you went to school under Communism, there is no way you can forget the parades. These crazy shows of stupidity, the new clothes for the holiday, shuffling for hours until it was your turn, the eternal rain, etc. cannot be forgotten. I went to school in the town of Tărnovo where I was born, and as you know, there is just one main street in Tărnovo. From the Vela Piskova school (now the Patriarch Euthymios school) it took us hours to reach the Samovodene market, where we would officially join the parade. I cannot remember exactly whether I was in fifth or sixth form, but it was certainly during a parade in May, because we carried roses in our hands. When we reached the podium with the “comrades”, someone threw his roses towards them. And of course all of us who followed flung our prickly bouquets in the direction of the dignitaries. On our way back to the school a rumour spread that whoever returns without flowers will be punished. It turned out that the gesture was interpreted as willful aiming at the “comrades”. I remember that it scared me a lot and all the way back to the school I was picking up trampled-on flowers from the street.”

Published Aug. 24, 2010 12:07 PM - Last modified Aug. 24, 2010 2:48 PM