Bulgaria Celebrates 'Apostle of Freedom' Vasil Levski's Birthday
Today Bulgaria celebrates the 177-th anniversary of the birth of its national hero, the “Apostle of Freedom” Vasil Levski.
Vasil Ivanov Kunchev was born in the town of Karlovo a son to a poor family that he had to take care of early in his life after the death of his father.
In his young years he joined a monastic confraternity, but left it to join the Bulgarian freedom movement.
Shortly after joining the First Bulgarian Legion, he acquired the nickname "Levski" (the Lion) after performing a spectacular jump over a training pit. In the eyes of his comrades, he jumped like a lion. History and legendary myth tell the story of him crossing the country, winning Bulgarians for his cause and creating revolutionary committees in most of the places he visited. With the Ottoman police constantly chasing him, he manages to escape using his wits and cunning.
He is a subject of admiration by other revolutionaries at the time who wrote about him in poetry and prose. In 1872 he was betrayed and captured by the authorities. He stood trial and was hung in the outskirts of Sofia on February 19 (new style) 1873.
It is peculiar that Bulgarians celebrate his hanging more than his birth - there are several explanations for this phenomenon including the personal guilt of the people that Vasil Levski's dreams remain unfulfilled to this day.
He preached that Bulgarian freedom should only come from the people, rather than be brought by an outside force and that it is the duty of Bulgarians to achieve equality between them and the other European peoples.
Bulgarian President Rossen Plavneliev will today partake in the celebrations in Levski's home town of Karlovo.