Bango Vasil: Happy Roma New Year

January 14, 2015


Roma kids visit World Bank country office in Bulgaria to give their best wishes for the New Year.

Ivelina Todorova Taushanova / World Bank

Bango Vasil - or Roma New Year - is celebrated every year in Bulgaria on January 14. This event is one of the most prominent traditions in Roma culture and is linked to Saint Vasil, believed to be the savior of all Roma. This year, to help ring in Bango Vasil, nine Roma children from the primary school in the small village of Dzulunitsa in visited the World Bank Country Office in Sofia to offer their best wishes for the New Year - a ritual known as “survakane” in Bulgarian.

This visit was initiated by the Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance “AMALIPE” which annually promotes Roma traditions by sending kids around to different institutions and embassies. This year marks the first year that the World Bank in Bulgaria has been included on the list of institutions and people invited to join in this celebration. These festivities also included Deputy President Margarita Petkova, Deputy Prime Ministers Tomislav Donchev and Ivaylo Kalfin, as well as the ministers of education, regional development and culture, and members of the Bulgarian Parliament. The ambassadors of Belgium, Germany, Norway, Poland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and India also hosted these children and celebrated the Roma New Year with them.



" I am delighted to celebrate the Roma New Year for the first time and to learn more about Roma culture. In return for the many kind wishes we received today I want to send my best regards to all Roma children in Bulgaria and wish them complete access to all the opportunities that the New Year will present. "

Tony Thompson

World Bank Country Manager for Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia

The Roma are among the largest ethnic minority groups in Europe, with estimated population of between 7 and 9 million - with approximately 70% living in the countries of Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe.

Access to education remains a key challenge for Roma children - especially early childhood education. Anywhere between 55 and 70% of Roma children between the ages of 3 and 6 do not attend preschool, reflecting both a lack of facilities and cost and awareness barriers for Roma families. Some Roma have no education at all while recent census data show that 70-80% of Roma have less than a primary school education and very few have completed primary and secondary education. Less than 1% of all Roma continue on to higher education.


The World Bank is a committed partner with Bulgaria and other countries in promoting equality of opportunity for the Roma population through improved access to inclusive education, productive employment, and improved living conditions. In all of our work, we emphasize partnerships with international and local organizations, and bring diverse interests and stakeholders together.

We are currently involved with a range of Roma-specific initiatives, including projects and analytical reports. Recent examples include a report that looks at gender and social inclusion, while an upcoming report called "Equality of Opportunity: A Fair Start for Marginalized Roma Children” will highlight the importance of early education and skills development for Roma children.

For more information about our work with on Roma inclusion, please visit: https://www.worldbank.org/en/region/eca/brief/roma