Bulgaria has a strong culture and rich traditions. Many of the traditional customs are displayed in the holiday calendar, which is diverse and complex. The majority of the Bulgarian people practices Christianity, eighty-five percent of the population belonging to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The traditional religion is considered to be Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The country also has a significant Muslim minority (13 %) and a small Jewish community.
One of the country’s most mysterious traditions is called fire dancing, which consists of barefooted dancers performing on burning embers. The dance is believed to banish illness, and encourage good health and fertility. Typically, Bulgarian folklore exhibits colorful displays of costume, dance and spirit. The folk festivals "Pirin Sings" and "Rozhen Sings" are the best-known Bulgarian folklore festivals. Last year alone, approximately 150,000 visitors from both Bulgaria and abroad gathered to watch the 4,000 festival performers.
Travelers enjoying a Bulgaria cruise during the first week of June can witness the celebration known as The Festival of Roses, which is held in the Rose Valley near the town of Kazanluk. The Bulgarian oleaginous rose yields seventy percent of the world’s rose extract, which is used as an essential component in many perfumes. The unique properties of Bulgarian roses and rose oil are due to the local climate and rich soil. The temperatures in February, when roses bud, are ideal, as is the humidity in May and June when the blossoms are picked.
Bulgarian is the official language of the country and uses the Cyrillic alphabet. During your Bulgaria tour you may also hear Turkish and Macedonian, but English, German, French and Russian are spoken in major tourist resorts and hotels.
Particularly exquisite crafts of Bulgarian artists include embroidery, vibrantly colored rugs and carpets, hand-painted ceramics, and finely detailed jewelry. A cruise to Bulgaria should include a visit to one of the country’s cultural museums or markets. 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 all display spectacular examples of Bulgarian handicrafts.
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