What can you learn from Bulgarian proverbs?

Proverbs are short sentences that carry deep meanings and truths. No matter where you are from, you have probably grown up listening to your parents comfort you – and sometimes teach you – using proverbs. While these little pearls of wisdom are tailored to our cultures, they teach the same lessons and give the same advice, albeit using different words.

Three things Bulgarian proverbs teach:

1. Who your real friends are

Bulgarians rely on the well-known proverb “Приятел в нужда се познава” (the English equivalent of “A friend in need is a friend indeed”) to distinguish their real friends from their fair-weather ones. More specifically, this saying teaches us that the ones who are by our side in difficult times are the ones who are our true and loyal friends.

2. Why you should never lie

Everybody knows that lying is bad. They know that it is immoral and that they should not do it. Nevertheless, many still lie. Bulgarians explain why we must refrain from telling lies, as the proverb “На лъжата краката са къси” (The lie’s legs are short) implies that the truth will catch up to us eventually.

3. The power of your words

Several proverbs urge us to be mindful of the words we use as they can make or break relationships and hurt the ones we love. The first and most important lesson comes from the saying “Казана дума – хвърлен камък” (A word said – a stone thrown). This proverb teaches us that we cannot take back what we have said and that the person opposite us cannot unhear it.

Similarly, another proverb reminds us of the consequences of saying hurtful things without thinking: “Лоша рана заздравява, но лоша дума не се забравя” (A bad wound heals, but a bad word cannot be forgotten). Much like the previous saying, this one teaches us that we can never take back what we have said and that the ones we have hurt will remember it forever.

Finally, Bulgarians understand the power of sweet and kind words. For this reason, they often use the proverb “Блага дума, железни врати отваря” (A kind word can open iron doors). This saying seeks to communicate that one is much more likely to appeal to someone and gain their trust when they speak with kindness.

Of course, there are hundreds of other Bulgarian proverbs teaching valuable lessons, comforting people, and giving them the advice they need.

Share your favourite proverbs from around the world in the comments below.

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