Rose Festival

Rose Festival

May-June
According to legend, a Persian trader brought rose bush cuttings to the Balkans hundreds of years ago to provide attar for his lady's perfume. Bulgaria still supplies 90 percent of the world's rose attar, and roses are raised for food and medicinal purposes as well.
The 10-day festival that celebrates Bulgaria's role in the cultivation and export of roses is held in Kazanlak, a small town in what is known as the Valley of the Roses. It begins with a procession of farmers and young people dressed in native costume and carrying baskets for the ritual picking of the rose petals. Even the queen of the pageant is selected not for her beauty but for her rose-picking ability. After she is crowned, she leads a long chain dance into Kazanlak, where her arrival is the signal to begin the Parade of Roses. Rose-decorated floats, costumed paraders, and folk dancers follow a route that winds through all the nearby towns. Afterward, there are picnics featuring Bulgarian foods. Folk dance and song programs complete the festival activities.
The Rose Festival is always held in late May and early June, the blooming season for roses. It takes 3,300 pounds of rose petals to make two pounds of rose attar.
CONTACTS:
Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria
1621 22nd St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-387-0174; fax: 202-234-7973
www.bulgaria-embassy.org
SOURCES:
GdWrldFest-1985, p. 27
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