Culture and Traditions
As early as 7000 years B.C., 3000 years before the Egyptians, traders from this land, now known as Bulgaria, had crossed up and down the Mediterranean. This long and winding history gave a source of not only great national pride but also an inspiration for a new national spirit. Much has perished through all these millennia, but even more has remained - a rich spiritual world which will shower you with the colors, rhythms and melodious songs of living Bulgarian folklore, the unfading beauty of Bulgarian arts and crafts, the gaiety and vivacity of Bulgarian festivals and customs, the piquant taste of Bulgarian cuisine and the delicate fragrance of Bulgarian wines.
Full of beauty, gaiety and a healthy love of life, the Bulgarian festivals and customs date back to ancient times. Bulgarians celebrate the first day of the New Year by a large number of traditional rituals. The most popular among them is the sourvakane - tapping the back of each member of the family by means of a specially decorated cornel-tree twig called sourvaknitza - for health and good luck. In mythology the cornel-tree stands for the live power of the good forces. On this day, people in masks, called sourvakari (also camilari, babougeri, startzi and djamali) visit peoples' homes and give blessings for health and fertility.
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