Festivals and Customs
Full of beauty, gaiety and a healthy love of life, the Bulgarian festivals and customs date back to ancient times when mail tried to appease the natural elements and trembled before their power. One of the merriest and richest festivals in a ritual aspect are Christmas and the New Year, when the so called 'sourvakari' make the round of houses with wishes for health and prosperity. Other major festivals include "ladouvane" - a festive ritual for young girls on New Year's Day or Midsummer Day (24 June), Shrovetide and Mummers' Games which take their beginnings from the Dionysian festivals of the Thracians and mark the start of spring, 'lazarouvane' - an Orthodox festival dedicated to love and the family, Trifon Zarezan (Vinegrower's Day) and St. George's Day, linked with health and abundance. And among them, the widely popular and typically Bulgarian customs and festivals - 'martenitsas' and rose-picking.
MartenitzaEvery year on the 1st of March, the Bulgarians give each other 'martenitsas' - small figures made of white and red threads, a symbol of the awakening, of spring, health and happiness.
In late May and early June every year, 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 and before the rose fragrance has had a chance to disappear. The Bulgarian oleaginous rose yields 70 percent of the world's attar of roses used by every well known perfume company as an essential component of its products. This is the time of the Festival of Roses, celebrated with carnivals, processions, folk songs and dances in Karlovo and Kazanluk on the first Sunday in June.