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May 24th is the Day Of Slavonic Alphabet, Bulgarian Enlightenment and Culture.
This day has been celebrated for 162 years now – no other holiday was so long celebrated in Bulgarian late history.
It’s also the official Day of Holy Brothers St. Cyril and St. Methody who wrote the first Slavonic alphabet in 855 A.D. – the Glagolitic (“Glagolitsa” in Bulgarian), and translated into Old Bulgarian the Bible and the religious literature of Orthodox Christianity.
The Glagolitic and the subsequently invented Cyrillic alphabet from the 9th century, are the oldest known Slavic alphabets.
The disciples of Cyril and Methodius introduced the alphabet in Bulgaria, putting the beginning of its journey to the world.
On May 11th, 1851 a celebration was organized by Nayden Gerov at the eparchy school “St St Cyril and Methody” in the town of Plovdiv. This was the first time to be marked the Day of the Saint brothers. Since 1857 this day has been celebrated every year in Plovdiv, Tsarigrad, Shumen and Lom and it was no by accident that May 11 was chosen – this is the common Church Holiday of the two Saints.

Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script is named after Saint Cyril, a missionary from Byzantium who, along with his brother, Saint Methodius, created the Glagolitic script. Modern Cyrillic alphabets developed from the Early Cyrillic script, which was developed during the 9th century in the First Bulgarian Empire (AD 681-1018) by a decree of Boris I of Bulgaria (????? I). It is thought that St. Kliment of Ohrid, a disciple of Cyril and Methodius, was responsible for the script. The Early Cyrillic script was based on the Greek uncial script with ligatures and extra letters from the Glagolitic and Old Church Slavonic scripts for sounds not used in Greek.

Bulgarian Folk Music
Music is inseparable from Bulgarian people's daily life and festive activities. Songs have accompanied them both in their work and holiday celebrations, in times of trial, joy or sorrow. Paradoxically, a Bulgarian would sing when in sorrow. Songs were created to any occasion - traditional festival songs (Christmas, Easter, St. George’s Day, praying for rain, etc.); working seasons' songs (harvest season, grape-picking, haymaking, etc.); feast songs, dance songs, refrains, and many others. Regional variations are not strictly delineated, but certain typical characteristics have formed several musical dialects: North-Bulgarian, Dobroudjanian, Thracian, Shopi, of the Pirin Mountains area, of the Sredna Gora region, and Rhodopian.
The distinguishing features of the Bulgarian folk song can be traced along three lines.
It is chiefly homophonic. Even when there are two singing parties (choir and choir, soloist and choir), whether they alternate, or one of the parties is leading and the other one follows, the song sounds single-voiced.
Its rhythm and vocal wealth are of a calibre described by the experts as ranging from fantastic richness to primitive monotony. This is achieved by means of diverse time combinations based on extended time. This technique makes Bulgarian folk song unique, while extended time is its distinguishing feature, which is non-existent in the rest of the European music. It is most expressively used in the Rhodopian songs.
The Voyager-1 and Voyager-2 spacecrafts are travelling towards the stars. Each of them carries a gilded copper gramophone record - a message to alien civilizations. In addition to scientific information about the Earth and its inhabitants, the record contains selected pieces of mankind's musical treasury. Along with a Beethoven symphony, there is among them a Bulgarian folk song from the Rhodopes region, performed by Valya Balkanska.
Bulgarians have a preference for the recitative: this is how traditional and epic khaidouk songs are commonly performed. Declamation is melodious, orderly or ornamented, and the melody largely conforms to the lyrics: Christmas carols are cheerful and optimistic; khaidouk songs are wide and free; harvest songs are drawled; the songs of the gourbetchii (seasonal migrants making their living abroad or far from their home places), are drawn out and melancholic.
The style of the Bulgarian folk song is defined as hard owing to the performer's strong voice. Women's voices, though, are clear and silver-toned.
Over 70,000 folk songs have been collected at the Folklore Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. What is more, today the folk song tradition is as alive as ever.
In addition, folk music has quite a significant place in contemporary Bulgarian composers' works.
Bulgarian folk songs and performers are liked and praised in many places around the globe.
The Bulgarian folk music has had a strong impact on modern world music too and has been directly used in a good number of modern musical compositions.
The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices is known and valued world-wide

Nestinari (Fire Dancers)
Bulgarian customs are rooted in antiquity and are closely tied to the country’s history and particular expression of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Dancing on live coals is an ancient Bulgarian ritual still practiced in a few villages in the Balkan Mountains. The ritual in its authentic form is performed on the name day of Saints Konstantin and Helena – 21 May or (3 June according to the old calendar. Fire dancers prepare for their dance by spending hours locked in a chapel, venerating the icons of these two saints while listening to the beating of drums and the music of gaidas (Bulgarian bagpipes), which is a special melody associated with fire dancing, after which they often fall into trance. In the evening they perform their special dance on live coals. During their dance they always hold aloft in both hands an icon of Saint Konstantin and Saint Helena. Amazingly, they never get hurt or burn their feet.

Rose Festival
Bulgaria is one of the biggest producers of rose oil in the world. The reason for this is hidden in the high qualities of the Bulgarian Kazanluk rose ("Kazanlashka roza"), a special type, that was cultivated in our country after many years of production and development. The Bulgarian roses are inheritors of the so called Damascena rose, that was brought here ages ago. The rose oil is called "the liquid gold" of Bulgaria, because it is a very expensive product, used mainly for the making of perfumes, chocolates, liqueur and jam. The rose oil is 3 times more expensive than the real gold. One kilogram rose oil can be extracted from 3000 kg of roses. This means, that for one gramme of rose oil are used more than 1300 rose blossoms! Every flower is picked by hands and preserved carefully for the distillation. More than 2000 people are occupied in the harvest every year. The period of the harvest lasts only 20-25 days. No other cultivation method has been able to preserve the character of the rose almost unchanged for over three centuries. This fact explains why there were no attempts at cultivating other rose varieties in the Rose valley near Kazanlak. It has established itself as a stable, independent type of rose, differing in its anatomy and physiology from the oil-bearing roses cultivated elsewhere.
The Bulgarian rose production is popularised every year during the Festival of Roses. This festival of the roses originates from the celebrations held at the beginning of the rose-harvesting period. Old rose growers used to organize pageantries in which manufacturers paraded, dressed up in rose flowers. The first rose festival in Kazanlak took place in 1903. Few years later, a similar fest was organized in the town Karlovo, situated in the same area - Rozova dolina (Rose valley) and also famous with its rose production. The first celebration on a national level was held in Pavel Banya on June 4, 1967. Manufacturers from the whole valley, together with masked dancers, called “koukeri” were singing and dancing during the whole fest. This type of celebrations became traditional in Kazanlak and later on in Karlovo too. The festival of Roses can be viewed as a tribute which is paid to beauty every year. Three main events are interesting for the guests of the festival - the electing of Queen Rose, the harvesting ritual in the rose gardens and the parade along the streets of the town. The rose industry has long ago proved its primary importance as a means of sustenance for the people living in the Rose Valley. For them, it has become become a way of approaching Nature.

Bulgarian monasteries
During the Bulgarian Revival, the monasteries served as centers of artistic and educational activity. There are still many working monasteries in the country – Rila Monastery, Bachkovo Monastery, Troyan Monastery, Zemen Monastery, Glozhene Monastery, Kilifarevo Monastery, Shipchenski Monastery, and others. Our country is also famous for its well-established national traditions of icon painting and wood carving. The best known icons and carvings are from Samokov, Tryavna and Bansko.
The Bulgarian national costume is an intrinsic part of Bulgarian lifestyle and culture. Over the ages, folk costume designs have been influenced by Thracian, Slavonic and ancient Bulgarian motives. The basic article of clothing is a white shirt with long sleeves, worn under vests and coats of various shapes, materials and decorations. There are four types of national female costumes: the single apron, the double apron, the tunic, and the sayana, and there are two types of national male costumes: white-shirt and black-shirt. Each ethnographic area (Dobrich, Pirin, Rhodope, Northern, Thracian and Sofia) has its own typical workday, holiday and wedding costumes.
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