Government continues to disperse holidays amid economic crisis
One of the more exotic "traditions" in Bulgaria is the propensity of governments during the past 20 years to "combine" bank holidays and then declare existing holidays, typically Saturdays, working days. The official explanation is that such adjustments to the working calendar of Bulgarians will enable them to rest more "comprehensively."
One of the cliches used to describe Bulgarians refers to their working habits: the Bulgarian "proverbial" industriousness. Asked to provide a real proverb that combines the words "Bulgarian" and "hard work" will not yield many results, but the myth of the hard-working Bulgarian still lives side by side with other commonplaces such as Bulgarian hospitality and cleanliness.
The truth is that in a country where the economic crisis that started in 2008 is still raging and things will probably become even worse before they start getting any better, the government is actually encouraging people to take more holidays rather than to do more work.
So, be prepared for a five-day collective lull around Christmas and for a six-day timeoff for St George's Day, 6 May 2014.
The exact working schedule for 2014 as stipulated by the recent government decree looks like this.
23 December 2013, a Monday, will be a holiday. It will have to be "worked off" on 21 December, the previous Saturday. In 2012 the government had declared 31 December 2013 also a holiday, which will have to be redeemed on 14 December 2013. 27 and 30 December 2013 will be normal working days because "companies need to finish off the year."
So, work on 14 and 23 December, hols from 22 to 26 December including both days.
In 2014, 2 and 5 May, a Friday and a Monday respectively, will be days off. In this way the country will collectively go to Greece from 1 May, which is an official holiday anyway, to 6 May, St. George's Day, inclusive of both days.
In the longer run, 31 December 2014, a Wednesday, will also be a day off that will have to be "worked" two weeks earlier, on 13 December 2014, a Saturday.
Other bank holidays in 2014 are 1 January (New Year); 3 March (Liberation Day); 18, 19 and 20 April (Orthodox Easter); 1 May (Labour Day); 6 May (St George's Day), 24 May (Alphabet Day); 6 September (Unification Day); 22 September (Independence Day); 1 November (Day of National Enlighteners); and 24, 25 and 26 December (Christmas).
One should note that in keeping with Bulgarian "proverbial" industriousness people usually start preparing for the long holidays two-three days before they actually start, and then they need another two-three days after the holidays end to adjust back to work. The Saturdays that will be worked on in compensation are usually slow days. Merry Christmas!