Old Bulgarian Riddles

Old Bulgarian Riddles


Why not have a fun and relaxing dinner with GOOD FRIENDS and your LOVED ONES? A good subject for kidding and talking are riddles. We have collected for you very old, rare and original riddles from different corners of Bulgaria. They are appropriate to accompany fine wine, shrimps, baked red peppers and other specialties.

His father is not yet born, the son is already strolling around for fun. What is it?

The fire that has not burned up yet, but smoke is already coming out and making the surrounding people sneeze.

Four brothers chase each other day and night and yet never catch each other.  Who are they?

The exhausted legs of a horse that serves day and night faithfully a haidut. Haiduts were rebels during the Ottoman conquest of Bulgaria, who hid in the forest and attacked Ottomans for revenge or to protect the Bulgarian population.

After Tuta the bandit, alone a golden girl ran. Captive she took him and in the gloomy dungeon she threw him.  What is it?

The golden faced cat that deftly catches a mischievous mouse and without anybody seeing, swallows it. The riddle originates from the region of Debar (pronounced Debre) and can be accompanied by traditional Bulgarian sausages such as lukanka or a Hungarian debrecener.

You beat it, you push it and it offers you to eat. What is it?

An ill-fated sieve, in which a frowning mother-in-law with a folk dress is cursing her daughter-in-law for not having done her work properly.

In Istanbul they are cooking pilaf, on mount Vihren we can smell it.

The rays of the sun, which come from afar, but we can feel their tender warmth here, on earth. It is incredible how profound a metaphor the modest shepherds of Harmanli have created. The original Bulgarian name of Istanbul is Tsarigrad, meaning the city of the Czar or emperor (the Caesar) of the Byzantine Empire.

A barn full with straw, the straw burnt, the barn remained.

An old stone oven, in which pork is being baked for Christmas.

Alone the king in green, his soldiers in red.

A green, swaggering cornel bush, heavily laden with red lush cornelian cherries about the end of summer.  Some varieties of cornelian cherries might be sweet, but all have an astringent flavor – mild or stronger.

Gapes, but has no tongue.

Pincers in the hands of a skilled artisan, who adroitly and cunningly creates with his hands, as if they were dancing. The Bulgarian verb for such action is maistOrya (майсторя) and can be translated with the ancient Greek word δαιδάλλω, to work skillfully, masterly. The riddles are from the region of Blagoevgrad or Upper Djumaya, as it used to be called.


As long as I am, if I were to stand, I would touch the sky.

The long way to the city, which poor peasants in the past had to travel by foot in order to sell some eggs.

Stitches and stabs, but blood does not come out. It walks, it wanders, a road it does not become.

Water, without which life is unthinkable and unbearable.

Tiny like walnuts, low they sit, the sky they reach.  

The eyes, which are such a blessing from God that we rarely appreciate it.

Grandpa had a fur coat, it covered all, but Vardar river it did not.

The snow, when it is snowing heavily and thickly, but it cannot cover a large river, because it is not frozen.

Gyoko walks through the field with three hundred stakes on his shoulder.

A hedgehog before dawn, hurrying to hide in its nest before the day breaks. Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals and usually sleep during the day.

Nepotistic riddles

A man was walking together with a woman along a road. Another person, who did not know them, saw them and asked the woman, what kind of kin she is to the man. She explained that the brother of the wife of this man is her vuycho (mother’s brother). What kind of relatives are the man and the woman?

This riddle stems again from the region of Harmanli and is appropriate for taming smartasses and know-it-alls. Actually, they are father and daughter. In another version of the riddle, from the Sofia or shopian region, one shepherd was so consumed with the riddle that he lost control of his sheep and they grazed off the field of some man. In court, the judge became so perplexed that while he was trying to find an answer for the riddle, he cut off his long beard. Here comes a part of the shopian version:


Once near a shepherd, a man and a woman passed by. The man exclaimed:

“May God help, shepherd!”  

“May God give you good, man and wife!”, responded the shepherd 

“We are not husband and wife, for my mother is her mother’s mother-in-law.”

“What of kind relatives are this man and this woman?”

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