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Bulgarian Festivals and Customs
Full of beauty, gaiety and a healthy love of life, the Bulgarian festivals and customs date back to ancient times. One of the merriest and richest festivals in a ritual aspect is Christmas and the New Year, when the 'sourvakari' make a round of houses with wishes for health and prosperity. Other great festivals include "ladouvane" - a festive ritual for young girls on New Year's Day or Midsummer Day (24 June), Shrovetide and Mummers' Games that 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. Amongst all them the famous and typically Bulgarian customs and festivals - 'martenitsas' and rose-picking.
Every year on the first 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 Mount. 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 popular 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.