Bulgaria | EUNewsletter

Rose nectar with a Bulgarian label

Bulgarians have cultivated and distilled rose petals for centuries to extract their delicious nectar and produce Bulgarian rose essence, which is considered one of the finest rose essences in the world. Bulgaria produces 1.3-1.5 tonnes annually, which equals 90% of global rose essence production, used in perfume and scents, and the pharmaceutical and food industries. To imagine the sheer volume of raw material, over 1300 rose blossoms are required to produce one gram of rose oil. The harvest has a strict ritual: flowers are picked by women only in the early morning (from 5-10am) in June and July.

Nowadays Bulgarians cannot imagine their lives bereft of roses and it is no wonder that Bulgaria is the place to host a unique rose festival. The festival’s location is determined by years: in odd years it is hosted in Karlovo, and, in even years, Kazanlak. However, in all years the main celebrations begin in Rose Valley, where the famous Bulgarian roses are cultivated.

Women dressed in national dress pick rose petals, sing folk songs and make wreaths. Pageantries continue in the city accompanied by folk music, painting and photography exhibitions. Festival participants have the opportunity to observe historical methods for rose essence distillation, as well as taste famous Bulgarian rose jams and liqueurs. Over several decades this festival has become not only a reflection of the Bulgarians’ way of living, but also of the cultural and spiritual heritage of the entire nation.