Bulgaria celebrates Day of Bulgarian (Cyrillic) Alphabet and Culture (Day of STS. Cyril and Methodius)

31 May 2018
The Embassy of Bulgaria in Qatar donates Cyrillic books and brochures to Qatar National Library

Bulgarians around the world celebrated the Day of St. Cyril and St. Methodius (the Day of the Bulgarian Alphabet) on May 24, known internationally as the Day of Cyrillic Alphabet and Bulgarian Culture.

The Bulgarian alphabet, or Cyrillic, as it is known internationally, was developed at the end of the 9th century CE by St. Kliment Ohridski and St. Naum Preslavski.

To celebrate the occasion in Qatar, His Excellency Ambassador Metin Kazak, Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria to Qatar, presented Dr. Sohair Wastawy, Executive Director of the Qatar National Library (QNL), with three books about Bulgaria, written in Cyrillic and English. Additionally, Ambassador Kazak gifted QNL a series of brochures depicting the Cyrillic alphabet in paintings and in phonetic pronunciation, transliterated in Latin alphabet.

St. Kliment Ohridski (St. Clement of Ohrid) and St. Naum Preslavski are two of the five major disciples of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, the Byzantine diplomats and civil servants of Slavic (i.e. Bulgarian) origin who invented the first Slavic alphabet, the Glagolitic, in the 9th century CE.

H.E. Ambassador Metin Kazak, Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria, said: “I am honored and humbled to present to the Qatar National Library these Bulgarian books, in Cyrillic alphabet, which is currently used by over 300 million people and nations in Europe and Asia”.  Ambassador Kazak also informed Dr. Sohair Westawy, Executive Director QNL of the importance for Bulgarians of the date of May 24 on which the Cyrillic alphabet is celebrated, as well as of the interest to develop and deepen the relations between the Bulgarian National Library and the Qatari National Library.  Potential future projects are also of interest, as well as the enriching of the collection of Cyrillic books by QNL.”

Dr. Wastawy said: “Qatar National Library’s collection, as well as its landmark Heritage Library, comprise books and manuscripts in numerous languages from around world. We are delighted to add these Cyrillic works to our growing collection, and we invite the Bulgarian community in Qatar to visit the library to take advantage of our resources.  On behalf of the library, I would like to wish every Bulgarian a happy Day of the Bulgarian Alphabet.”

“The Cyrillic books add further linguistic diversity to the Library. While the QNL collection mainly comprises Arabic and English language texts, it also provides a wide selection of books in other languages, reflecting Qatar’s multinational population. These include French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu, Tagalog, Sinhalese, Malayalam, Bengali, Korean and Chinese,” added Dr Wastawy.

The Cyrillic alphabet is used today by some 300 million people in 12 countries in Eastern Europe by Serbians, Montenegrins, Russians, Byelorussians and residents of Northern and Central Asia.  It is prevalent in Slavic countries or non-Slavic countries that have been influenced by Russian culture, such as Mongolia, which adopted the Cyrillic alphabet in the 1940s.

After Bulgaria joined the European Union on January 1, 2007, the Cyrillic alphabet became one of the three official alphabets of the European Union, together with Latin and Greek alphabets.