YOUR CULTURAL HOLIDAY

Rhodopes Autumn

The Legend of Orpheus

One of the greatest legends of bitter sweet love belongs to this part of the world. According to legend, Orpheus was born and lived in the land of the Rhodope Mountains. There are many versions of the legend but all describe the mythical Orpheus as having such a beautiful singing voice that it has the power to enchant people and animals alike. His undying love for his wife Eurydice led him to the famous caves of this area and into to the underworld from where he hoped return with her.

More information from: Bulgaria Travel

Festivals

The Bulgarian culture has many curious traditions which were born out of a fascinating history and it has shaped this beautiful land and its people. There are many festivals held annually which reflects this rich culture. Held near Smolyan, Stoikite, is the Rozhen Folklore Festival, as well as the Festival of Bagpipes Gela. The International Bagpipe Contest takes place during the Festival of Bagpipes and features bagpipers from Japan, Holland, Hungary, France and Great Britain.

Traditions and Customs

Many of the traditions and customs are rooted in antiquity and are closely tied to the country’s history and particular expression of Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

Fire Dancing is an ancient Bulgarian ritual still practiced in a few villages in the Balkan Mountains. The ritual in its authentic form is performed on the name day of Saints Konstantin and Helena – 21 May (or 3 June according to the old calendar.)

The  Kukeri or Mummer games are special customs and rituals conducted most often on New Year’s Eve. The Mummers ritual dances are said to chase away bad spirits and demons at the beginning of every year, so as to greet the new year cleansed and charged with positive energy.

Name Days honour the Saints in the Eastern Orthodox Church and are considered nearly as important as family birthdays.

The official tourism portal of Bulgaria has more on the lifestyle and culture of Bulgaria.

Fame and fortune

Bulgaria is renowned for its production of rose oil and is arguably the world’s largest producer.  Bulgarian rose oil is used in some of the world’s most famous perfumes. It can be bought as souvenirs in traditional styled bottles and makes a lovely gift.

Bulgaria also produces beautiful Troyan Pottery this can be bought in many places and can often be found for sale in roadside stalls. It is also available to order online.  World renowned Bulgarian yogurt, a staple part of the Bulgaria diet is sold in this pottery.

Bulgaria is a well know destination for the film industry. Films can be easily produced here and the stunning country side has made the ideal backdrop.

A brief history

Bulgaria is a country with a long, tumultuous and fascinating history. It has been invaded, conquered and settled by Greeks, Scythians, Romans, Byzantines and Turks, all of whom left their indelible marks on the landscape. Bulgaria’s medieval ‘Golden Age’, when the Bulgar Khans ruled over one of the largest empires in Europe, was bright but brief, while 500 years of subsequent, brutal Turkish domination isolated the country from the rest of Europe. More recently, Bulgaria spent four decades as a totalitarian Soviet satellite state, again leaving this small Balkan nation in the shadows as far as the Western World was concerned. It’s no wonder, then, that Bulgarians are so passionate about preserving their history and their culture, which has survived so often against the odds. In the last years of the 20th century Bulgaria began opening up, and is one of the newest members of the EU.

Read more about Bulgarian history here.

Don’t forget to take home some souvenirs to remind you of your travels.

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