History of 9 Vegetarian Dishes for Bulgarian Christmas Eve Dinner Celebration

Traditionally Christmas Eve (Badni Vecher) dinner in Bulgaria would be vegetarian marking the end of a 40 day fast. Customarily an odd number of meals will be prepared. The dishes have symbolic meanings centering around fertility and abundance:

  1. Bobena Chorba (bean or lentil soup), so the coming year will be fertile, abundant, and wealthy
  2. Zelevi Sarmi (rice stuffed in sour cabbage leaves), so the next year will be abundant and crops and families will be fertile
  3. Tikvenik (pumpkin banitza), so life will be sweet
  4. Honey Bread, so life will be sweet
  5. Walnuts, to tell fortunes of of success or failure in new year
  6. Fruits, for new year to be fruitful, and walnuts
  7. Boiled wheat with walnuts and sugar, symbolizes the association between death and life
  8. Oshav, a dried-fruit compote, to represent abundance
  9. Onions and garlic, for abundance and protection

Tradition holds that the more dishes on the table, the richer the next harvest will be.