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Bulgaria is the only country in the European Union that uses the Cyrillic alphabet. Bulgaria was admitted into the EU in 2007 which made it the third official alphabet in the EU after Latin and Greek. It is celebrated annually as Slavonic Literature and Culture. Currently, the creator brothers St Cyril and St Methodius and their students are also honoured. In the 9th century there was something like a competition between the pope in Rome and the Emperor of Constantinople. It was a competition for influence over the still not Christianised (and mainly Slavonic) peoples in Europe. The Byzantine Emperor and his Patriarch thought it would be a good idea to provide an alphabet to the Slavs. The idea was to eradicate the Western influence. Cyrill and Methadius were chosen to go to Great Moravia, parts of today's Czech Republic, Slavokia and Hungary. Their mission was to create a Slavonic alphabet. The first Slavonic alphabet was the so called Glagolita (from the glagol meaning word) or Glagolitic alphabet which was also the first alphabet to be used for Slavonic manuscripts.
At the same time, the Bulgarian Knyaz Boris decided that he could make use of the alphabet. He had just adopted Christianity from the Patriarch in the Byzantine Empire. During this time, all the services conducted in Bulgarian churches were in Greek. This was a problem because the common people could not understand Greek. Boris then asked two of his students of Cyril and Methodium (Kilment and Naum) to introduce the new alphabet to some Bulgarian priests and to preach in Slavic language. However, Kilment soon realised that letters in the Glagolita did not correspond to the needs of the Bulgarian language. Thus, he introduced a major reform where a mixture of the Greek Script and the Glagolita led to the creation of the Cyrillic alphabet. It was developed in the Preslav Literary School in the First Bulgarian State back in the 9th century. To date, several countries including Belarus, Bosnai, Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, North Macedonia, Mongolia, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan and Ukraine. Interestingly, Mongolia is the only country among the Slavonic language group. It is quite strange for people who speak a Slavic language and can read Cyrillic. They can recognise the letters but cannot understand a single word.
Bulgaria prides itself to be the birthplace of the Cyrillic Script. For this reason, 24th May is one of Bulgaria's biggest holidays. It is a non-school day and there are numerous ceremonies and celebrations all around the country. If you happen to be in Sofia on the 24th of May, the biggest celebrations are usually held in front of the monument of St Cyril and St Methodium. It is right in front of the National Library. It is also where all the officials (including the prime minister, president and major of Sofia) gather to show their respect.
24th May, 2023.