Bulgarian culture is as old as the country itself. For thirteen centuries the traditions of Thracians, Slavs and Proto-Bulgarians have been kept alive in many families and passed from one generation to another. Customs, rituals, costumes and songs alternate from region to region. Specific and diverse, they are united by Bulgaria's long history and have preserved the country’s identity over the centuries.
Bulgarian folklore festivals are full of beauty, mystical voices, fiery dances and brightly coloured costumes. Fire dancing is the most ancient mysterious ritual - barefoot 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. The Festival of Roses is a lovely festival celebrated in the Rose Valley near the town of Kazanluk (at the foot of the Balkan Range) in the first weekend of June every year. 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. Kukeri Carnival held in the region of Dupnitsa and Pernik 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.
Bulgarian traditions are the heart and soul of the country. They date back to ancient times when man tried to appease the nature and trembled before its power. Martenitsa is one of the most interesting traditions. It is related to the first of March and is based on the founding of Bulgaria, 681 AD. March according to Bulgarian folk belief marks the beginning of the springtime. Therefore the 1st day of March is a traditional holiday associated with sending off the winter and welcoming the spring. On this day people present to each other strips or small wool dolls made of red and white threads wishing health, happiness and soon coming spring. Saint Trifon Zarezan is thought to be the guardian of vines in Bulgaria and the holiday celebrated on the 14th of February is in his honor. Not only vine-growers celebrate this day but also gardeners and tavern-keepers. Early in the morning, dressed in their best clothes, vinegrowers go to the vine. There they prune the vines and sprinkle them with wine for a good harvest. This ritual is called ‘zarqzvane’ (comes from ‘cut’). Then the men gather together and choose the ‘king of vine’. After all this the feast begins. The ‘king’ carries wreath of vine-stocks. Then they go back to the village, passing by every house. The hostess of the house gives the king to drink wine, and then the other men drink too. Next when these men are back in the village the king redresses in clean clothes and sits at the table waiting for his guests.
Bulgaria is also the land of ancient treasures. In the last few decades a number of significant collections of Thracian treasures have been discovered in present-day Bulgaria, providing much of our present knowledge of ancient Thrace. Varna golden treasure (6th - 5th millenia BC) is the proof of existing of the oldest European civilization and the world's oldest gold. Vulchitrun golden treasure (13th - 12th centuries BC) is the most remarkable example of the art of the Later Bronze Age in Thracia. It consists of the perfectly shaped and carefully polished ritual 13 vessels weight 12.5 kg solid gold. Rogozen royal silver treasure (5th - 4th century BC) The biggest and richest treasure found till now (total weight of 20 kg), possession of the dynasty court of the Triballoi. Panagyurishte golden treasure (4th century BC) was possessed by a Thracian king. It consists of 23-carat gold (weight of 6.164 kg) royal set of 9 exquisitely shaped vessels - rhytons, amphoras and a phiale, all depicting mythological scenes.
The brilliance and beauty of these treasures invariably return us to man's longing for harmony. As "Mankind's Oldest Gold and Oldest Civilization in Europe" they were shown in Japan, Canada, The USA, Mexico, France, Russia, Austria, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Hungary, Holland and India.