Fire dancing is the most ancient mysterious ritual -
barefooted dancers performing on burning embers. This religious and mystical
ritual for expelling illness, for health and fruitfulness is one that must be
seen to believe it.
FESTIVAL OF ROSES
One lovely festival celebrated in the Rose Valley near the town of Kazanluk (at
the foot of the Balkan Range) on the first weekend of June every year. The
festival is a pageant of beauty in the unique Rose Valley. In the run-up of
the event, a Queen Rose beauty contest is held in several rounds. Artists,
actors, circus performers, writers and singers flock to Kazanluk at the
start of June. The Bulgarian oleaginous rose yields 70 percent of the world's attar of roses
used by every perfume company as an essential component of its products. The history tells that in the Thracian provinces of the Roman Empire, the
Thracians grew 12 varieties of roses, one of them known as the "Thracian
Rose". In the 1270, during the crusades, Count de Gruye brought the
Damascus rose from Syria to the valley of Kazanlak where
conditions proved excellent. Experts claim that Bulgarian roses and rose oil
owe their unique properties to the local climate and the generous soil. The temperatures in
February, when roses bud, are ideal. The blossoms are picked in May and
June, when high humidity is very important. So is the cinnamon-forest soil
in the area and, last but not least, the remarkable skills of the Bulgarian
Held in the region of Dupnitsa and Pernik this is a splendid
festival of brightly colored masks and costumes which marks the beginning of the spring.
Every participant makes his own multi-coloured personal mask, covered with beads,
ribbons and woollen tassels. The heavy swaying of the main mummer is
meant to represent wheat heavy with grain, and the bells tied around the waist
are intended to drive away the evil spirits and the sickness.
THE BULGARIAN VOICES
They are called to be mystery. Experts
are still trying to explain the incredible range of the Bulgarian voice and the variety
of songs. Its unique sound was universally acknowledged by the fact that the popular Rhodope song
"Izlel e Delyu hiadutin" sung by the talented singer Valya Balkanska was recorded on a gold record and was sent as a
message to outer space on the American spaceship Voyager in 1977.
The world is discovering it again and again at major folklore and song
contests in Italy, France, England and Ireland from which the Bulgarian
music and dance ensembles invariably walk off with the first prizes. The folk festivals "Pirin Sings" and
Rozhen Sings are the best-known Bulgarian folklore festivals. Approximately 150 000 visitors from Bulgaria and
abroad come together to witness the show by the 4 000 performers on each festival. They come not only to see these inspiring events, but also to learn about the
curious world of Bulgarian folklore traditions.
Thet have gradually emerged from the narrow frame work of strictly
domestic life to become an art which breeds art: Bulgarian embroidery with
its intricate geometrical figures, Bulgarian rugs and carpets with their
vibrant colours, exquisitely painted Bulgarian ceramics, finely ornamented
Bulgarian fretwork and superbly fashioned Bulgarian jewellery. The Samovodene Market in Veliko Turnovo, the Permanent National Exhibition
of Folk Art in Oreshak near Troyan and the Etura architectural and
ethnographic complex near Gabrovo are all original museums of the revived
beauty of Bulgarian handicrafts. You are bound to find your own particular
memento from Bulgaria here - a small carved wooden wine vessel, a Troyan
pottery set, a fleecy Rhodope rug, an original piece of silver jewellery, a
finely embroidered silk blouse or a colourful carpet.