Festivals and Customs
Full of beauty, vibrancy and a healthy love of life, the Bulgarian festivals and customs date back to pre-Cristian and are considered to be the remains of Dionysian rites practiced by the Thracians and adopted by the Slavs. Some of the merriest and richest, in terms of rituals, festivals are Christmas and the New Year, when the so called “sourvakari” dance from house to house and sing wishes for health and prosperity. Other major festivals include “ladouvane” - a festive ritual for young girls taking place four times a year, “lazarouvane” - a festival dedicated to love and marriage and marking the beginning of the spring, Trifon Zarezan – the Vinegrower's Day, and St. George's Day – marking the beginning of the agricultural summer. Among these festivals are also the widely popular and typically Bulgarian customs - “martenitsas” and rose-picking.
Every year, on the 1st of March, Bulgarians give each other “martenitsas” - small figures made of white and red threads symbolizing the awakening of spring – with wises for health and happiness throughout the year.
Every year, in late May and early June, the rose-picking season starts in the Valley of Roses, which stretches between the Balkan Range and the Sredna Gora Mountains. Rose-picking starts at dawn, before sunrise while the roses still keep their precious fragrance. Bulgaria is the biggest producer of rose oil in the world (70 percent of the world production.) The rose oil is used by many of the world famous perfumery producers as it is an essential component of their products. The Festival of Roses, takes place in Karlovo and Kazanlak on the first Sunday of June and is celebrated with carnivals, processions, folk songs and dances.