Wednesday, September 22, 2021
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Ancient beliefs


The ancient Bulgarians wouldn’t kill a bear without reason; they did not have bear meat in their diet. According to 12th century written evidence, it was considered improper to use bear skins for clothing or bedcover. Only man-eaters were allowed to be killed, and even then, the hunter was required to perform a series of rituals to justify taking a bear’s life. There are many beliefs according to which a man killed by a bear was justly punished for his misdeeds.

It is a time-honored tradition in the Bulgarian lands for people to address, or refer to, bears using terms of endearment attributing human-like personalities to these animals. ‘Granny Bear’, for one, is a beloved character in oral folklore. According to an ancient Slavic belief, the bear was stronger than the devil and wherever it set foot, the evil spirits would disappear.

The bear was worshiped by almost all ancient peoples as the master of the forest, a messenger of the supreme ruler of nature and a fair and even-handed judge. It is not accidental that three European capitals, Berlin, Berne and Madrid, have chosen a bear as their symbol, and that even the name of Berlin is said to originate from Bär – ‘bear’ in German.

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