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Opinion / Editorial

May 24 is the day of the Bulgarian alphabet, education and culture

May 24 is the day of the Bulgarian alphabet, education and culture

Every year, on May 24, Bulgaria honors the great work of Cyril and Methodius. May 24 is the day of the Bulgarian alphabet, education and culture, which has been celebrated since the time of the Bulgarian Renaissance, in the distant year 1851, with the initiative of the well-known writer and linguist Nayden Gerov. It is one of the most beautiful Bulgarian national holidays, which honors letters and writing by placing them on the pedestal, in the deserved place, because they are the basis of everything, the genesis of knowledge and culture, of progress and walking towards the light. Even in the holy scripture it is not for nothing that it is said: In the beginning was the word. Over 1150 years ago, Bulgaria and its leaders understood the importance of letters and the weight of the written word. With this difficult but vitally important mission for the Bulgarian state, the Bulgarian prince, Boris I (1st half of the 9th century – May 2, 907) took on himself. It was the time when the two brothers from the surroundings of Thessaloniki, Cyril (born as Constantine: 826-869) and Medotus (815-885) had started their mission of spreading writing and the Christian religion in Moravia. Both brothers were educated at the "Magnaura" school, the best in the Byzantine Empire at the time. For this purpose, they also designed a new alphabet, with new letters, which was unique and different from the Latin and Greek ones. The alphabet was called Gllagolica. For its drafting and to make it as comprehensible as possible for the Slavs, they relied on the speech of the Bulgarian Slavs from the surroundings of Thessaloniki, a dialect that they knew in detail. Their mother Marija was Bulgarian. In Moravia (today part of several Central European states) both brothers managed to train their students, but after their death (according to historians "Cyril died in 869 in Rome, and Methodius in 885 in the Slavic state of the Middle Ages - Moravia e Madhe, where the brothers preached in the Slavic language and prepared many students) their mission in that country failed and perhaps today history would not write and weave glory for them, if some of their students who were raped and expelled from Moravia did not they would have been saved and accepted in Bulgaria by Prince Boris. The prince welcomes the disciples of Cyril and Methodius and in this way he saves their great work from extinction. Prof. Rozhe Bernar rightly points out that "By saving the work of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, Bulgaria has won the gratitude and respect not only of the Slavic peoples, but also of the world. And this will be true as long as humanity values ??the words progress, culture and humanity...". One of the greatest connoisseurs of the work of brothers Cyril and Methodius, Frantisek Dvornik, writes about this, who, among other things, writes that "by welcoming the students of the holy brothers, Bulgaria actually saves Slavic writing and literature". And this truth is so, because these students were expelled from Great Moravia after the death of Methodius. They did not carry books with them, but they were very well received in Bulgaria by the Bulgarian prince Boris.Thus their students were saved, but with them the knowledge of Slavic-Bulgarian translations was also saved. With this action, Prince Boris showed that he was not only a good military leader, but above all, a great visionary. Thus the Gllagolica or Gllagolic alphabet, created by St. Cyril and St. Methodius sometime around 855, became the first Bulgarian alphabet. This is an original graphic system based on the Bulgarian dialect of the surroundings of Thessaloniki. They managed to find a separate letter for each sound of this dialect. The name of this alphabet comes from the word "glagolla" which means "word" and since "glagollati" means "speak", the gllagolic alphabet is poetically called "signs that speak". All letters have their names. They also have numerical value. The first ecclesiastical translations from Greek, but also the original works in old Bulgarian, were written in the Glagolitic alphabet, created by the brothers Cyril and Methodius, who for their activity Pope John Paul II declared them "Defenders of Europe" in 1980. They are among the six patron saints of Europe announced by the Catholic Church. For Pope John Paul II, both are a bridge between East and West, contributing significantly to the cultural growth of the old continent. Under the patronage of Prince Boris I himself, the students of Cyril and Methodius were not only received with great honors in Pliska (d. 886), the first capital of Bulgaria, but they were provided with excellent conditions to develop educational and literary activities . The first literary and cultural centers were established in Bulgaria – first in Pliska, and then in Veliki Preslav, Bulgaria's second capital. Prince Boris I and later his successors understood very well the need to spread Christianity among Bulgarians in their native language, therefore they provided large financial assistance for the translation and publication of church books in Bulgarian, for the preparation of clergy to conduct services in the language Bulgarian and not Greek and later the creation of the independent Bulgarian church. The Glagolitic alphabet and writings in the native language with this alphabet became the main pillars of the state and the spiritual identity of the Bulgarians. In addition to Pliska and Preslav, another important center of Bulgarian writing and culture was born, in the west of what was then Bulgaria, in the city of Ohrid. Quite well-known names worked in these centers, such as Klimenti, Naumi (students of Cyril and Methodius), Joan Ekzarhu, Konstantin Preslavski, Chernorizec Hrabër, Simeon, who later became the king of Bulgaria, who created a rich literature and diverse, translated and original, which contains in itself all the genres of medieval Christian literature. This first Bulgarian alphabet through written books began to spread very quickly among other peoples, especially the Slavs of the Balkans, Serbs and Croats, and of Eastern Europe, among the Russians.At the end of the 9th century, the second Bulgarian alphabet, known as the Cyrillic alphabet, was created in the First Bulgarian Kingdom. The name comes from the name of Saint Cyril and was given symbolically to show continuity with his immortal work, the creation of Glagolitic and the spread of Christianity. All scientists accept the Bulgarian origin of this alphabet, while the school where it is thought to have been created is that of Preslav. The main support comes from King Simeon, also known as Simeon the Great. Many researchers are of the opinion that Simeon or Clement of Ohrid could be the creators of the new Bulgarian alphabet. The Cyrillic alphabet contains 24 letters from the Greek alphabet and 12 more that are similar to the Glagolitic ones, which correspond to the special sounds of the Bulgarian language. The new alphabet was much easier and simpler to learn and use than Glagolitic. Both alphabets remained in use for a long time, until in the 12th century the Cyrillic alphabet completely replaced the Glagolitic one. The latter was used until recently in Dalmatia with its characteristic form also called "Croatian" or "Dalmatian". Cyrillic as well as Glagolitic from Bulgaria began to spread very quickly to other Slavic countries. The two Bulgarian alphabets are an important moment in the history of Bulgaria and the Slavic world. They influenced the creation of the first Slavic literary language, Old Bulgarian, which became the third classical European medieval language. Through this language, the old Bulgarian literature was cultivated, which laid the foundations of a third civilization in Europe, alongside the Greek and Latin ones, the civilization of Slavic-Bulgarian Orthodoxy. Thus Bulgaria in the Middle Ages reached the heights of European culture, its golden century, managing not only to survive in the neighborhood with the most powerful empire of the time, but also to radiate culture in the Slavic world and beyond. Medieval Bulgarian culture succeeded in breaking the dogmas of trilingualism of the time, according to which the word of God could be spread only in three languages ??- Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Old Bulgarian also managed to become the language of the church. It managed to survive the invasions and keep the spirit of the Bulgarian people always awake. It is not for nothing that the Russian academic Dmitrij Likhachev says that the Bulgarian state was conquered by Byzantium and disappeared from the political map of Europe, but the "Spiritual State" remained. Today more than 300 million people in Europe and Asia use Cyrillic as their alphabet. Again thanks to Bulgaria, since 2007 the Bulgarian Cyrillic alphabet became the third graphic system of the European Union, alongside Latin and Greek. Even in Albania, the use of the Bulgarian Cyrillic alphabet has begun. In this alphabet, children of Bulgarian origin from the areas of Gora (Kuka), Golloborda and Prespa, who attend weekend schools in the Bulgarian language in the cities of Tirana, Elbasan, learn to read and write in their mother tongue.Korçë and Pogradec, organized by the associations of the Bulgarian minority in the country. The University of Tirana also offers the teaching of the Bulgarian language, as does the University of Sofia "St. Kliment Ohridski". With the Bulgarian Cyrillic alphabet, many valuable books about Albania and Albanians have been written and published by renowned scientists, which today are stored in the Bulgarian National Library "Saints Cyril and Methodius". So on May 24 - Day of writing, education and culture, Bulgarians should feel proud, because through the alphabet their ancestors spread the light of knowledge and culture to more than 50 nationalities - from distant Siberia to the heart of Europe.