Culture and Literacy Day is a public holiday celebrated in Bulgaria each 24 May to celebrate the significance of the Bulgarian language and the Cyrillic alphabet.
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In the 9th century AD, two brothers from Thessalonica took the Christian message to the Slavic people. Prince Rastislav, King of Moravia, (in the area of the present-day Czech Republic and Slovakia) had requested that some missionaries to come to his region to help teach the people the ways of Christianity. The two brothers were sent and this marked the beginning of the significant history of the Bulgarian language.
The brothers were named Constantine and Michael. Later in life, when they became monks, they took the names Cyril and Methodius. Both were gifted in their studies and knowledge and, after their deaths, they came to be recognised as saints.
Cyril and Methodius created the first Slavic literary language and used it to translate the Bible and other documents to teach, at first, the Moravians. The language was named Old Church Slavic then Glagolic. Eventually, followers of Cyril and Methodius named the written script Cyrillic after Cyril, the brother more knowledgeable in languages. Bulgarians are the only members of the European Union to write in Cyrillic although many today know the Cyrillic alphabet as the Bulgarian alphabet.
The four key branches of the Christian church hold a feast day for the two saints. These include the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox and the Lutheran churches. In the Orthodox Church where the Julian calendar is followed, the date of the feast day is 11 May, which coincides with the Gregorian 24 May.
On the public holiday, across Bulgaria, portraits of St Cyril and St Methodius are displayed, and even paraded in places. Schools are decorated with flowers and with pictures of the brothers, and the language and culture of Bulgaria are celebrated.