There is evidence of a Jewish presence on the Balkans prior to the new era and the first centuries AD. During the 14th century a small group of Ashkenazi Jews (who spoke Yiddish) came to Bulgaria from Hungary and Germany. During the 15th century, after being exiled from Spain, many Sephardic Jews (who spoke Ladino) also arrived in Bulgaria. Part of them, along with previously established Jewish communities known as Romaniot, formed Jewish communities in present-day Nikopol, Sofia, Plovdiv, Pazardzhik and other towns. Many Ashkenazi Jews from Russia, Moldova, Romania, Austria and Poland came to Bulgaria during the 19th century. Today most Bulgarian Jews are Sephardi (Spagnolo), a few Ashkenazi live in Sofia and Rousse. Almost all Bulgarian Jews live in cities and towns.
The Jews in Bulgaria have retained their specific culture. It is connected with the symbols and rites of Judaism, as well as with their traditional festal calendar. The Jewish festivals are held in memory of historic events, which are written down in the Jewish holy scriptures. The Jews call themselves "The People of Memory". Their festivals are strongly entwined with the strict adherence to specific rituals and ceremonies of great spiritual value to their community.