November 4, 2014
Today, we’d like to explore more about one reason why we wrote Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey. It’s more than a tale about eternal love. As mentioned in the introductory blog, it’s also a story about the modern Bulgarian people and their culture.
This isn’t a discussion about religion. It’s about the activities people perform that are unique to their culture. Granted, the activities may take place during religious holidays, but they don’t necessarily have a religious significance, although often they do.
Why is understanding culture important? One reason is it defines who people are. The common experiences that people share influences their perception of the world and consequently how they behave with each other and those outside their community. People who believe in evil spirits may be more cautious around others. In Mystical Emona, Maria is constantly giving Stefan charms to ward off the evil she believes intends to harm him. As an outsider, Stefan reacts differently to her actions than those who have lived with her in the village.
Is either of them right or wrong? No. Different cultures shaped their view of what evil spirits are, or if they even exist. Will living in a place that is vastly different from your own change your perception? Quite possibly, yes.
Then the question arises: Should people who move to another country forget about their heritage and immerse themselves in their new culture? Or should they retain the purity of their traditions, ignoring all else? Or perhaps a bit of both – creating new traditions from each culture?
There is no set answer. Everyone is different, so what works for one person or family may not be appropriate for another. Some beliefs may be so strongly ingrained into people’s personalities that no amount of time can erase them. While other beliefs may pass by the wayside, with people openly embracing new beliefs, or incorporating them into what they believe and creating new traditions.
Consider these thoughts about what culture does.
- Provide comfort and security: Customs, traditions, and beliefs give people hope for a better life for themselves and their children.
- Pass on cultural and religious heritage: Traditions are a great way to teach children about the family’s cultural and religious history, giving them personal identity.
- Connect generations: Spending time with older generations is a great way to build memories and enables people to learn about beliefs, traditions, and heritage.
We’ll leave you with a quote from Mystical Emona where Peter is telling Stefan about Sultana, a znahar, a woman who heals with herbs. Many people considered her a witch. “When people don’t understand things, they call them bad. Miracles still happen, but you need to believe deep in your heart before you can experience them.” So, culture is about believing.