The History of the Cyrillic Alphabet

The Feast of the Letters

The 24 of May is for Bulgarians the “Feast of Letters” – a Holiday with which the people in Bulgaria feel connected not by obligation, but by pure empathy. The official name of the Holiday is: “Feast of the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius. National Day of Culture and Slavic Script.”

Some Interesting Facts

In the IXth Century, the Brothers Cyril and Methodius gave the Bulgarians, as well as other Slavic peoples, the opportunity to have their own alphabet, through which to express in writing their unique language.

Why does this sound so important?

The fact is that there are many languages in the world, but not each of these languages has its own system of letters – or alphabet.
The most common alphabets in the world according to the number of people who use them are: Latin, Chinese alphabet, Arabic alphabet, Devangari, Bengali-Assamese, Greek alphabet, Cyrillic alphabet, Kana….

Check out this interesting article on the topic: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-world-s-most-popular-writing-scripts.html

– There are 195 countries in the world
– Approximately 6500 spoken languages
– And about 200-400 types of alphabets.
The basic alphabets have many variations among different peoples and therefore the figure could not be more accurate.

The Cyrillic alphabet is used by approximately 250 million people, speaking approximately 20 to 50 languages, and has many variations. For example, the Cyrillic alphabet is the basis of the Russian alphabet, Ukrainian, Macedonian, Serbian, Belarusian, Mongolian and the alphabets of many other peoples from Eastern Europe and Asia.

What is the Story about the Cyrillic Alphabet?

The Cyrillic alphabet was created in Bulgaria in the IXth Century by Kliment Ohridski, and is called “Cyrillic” because it bears the name of Cyril (Constantine-Cyril the Philosopher).

Cyril (his real name is Constantine, and he adopted the church name Cyril shortly before his death when he became a monk) and Methodius are two brothers theologians of the Christian faith, born in Thessaloniki, Byzantium. In the IXth Century, they became missionaries and began to spread Christianity among various Slavic peoples.

During their missionary work, they learned that the nations would accept the new Christian religion much more easily if it spread in a language they knew, instead of the foreign Latin and Greek languages ​​as was accepted at the time. Until now, the Slavic language was only colloquial and did not have its own alphabet. Cyril and Methodius set out to create a script and worship in the Slavic language.

Cyril created the first Slavic alphabet, known as “Glagolitic”. The brothers train their students to continue their mission.

Not everywhere the new alphabet and the enlightening activity of the brothers Cyril and Methodius were well received by the local rulers. After their deaths, their students were persecuted.

Three of these students, Kliment (Ohridski), Nahum and Angelarius, were very well received in Bulgaria by its ruler at the time, Knyaz Boris I. This happened in 886. They began their educational work among the Bulgarians, who were officially Christians from only 20 years. Bulgaria adopted Christianity as the main religion under Knyaz Boris I in 864.

However, the Glagolitic alphabet turned out to be too complicated to use and that is why Kliment Ohridski created on its basis a simpler and more convenient alphabet, which bears the name of his teacher – “Cyrillic”.

Used Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saints_Cyril_and_Methodius