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Thracian folklore region


Thrace is the largest and the most important folklore region in Bulgaria.
The Thracian lowlands impress with their immensity and vast open spaces. Rich green meadows stretch from the Balkan mountain in the east as far as the Black Sea and to the Rhodopes in the south. Flat and boundless is the Thracian lowland.  It is here that the oldest culture on the Balkan Peninsula came into being, created by the first settlers – the Thracians. To this day across Thrace you can still hear Orpheus’s songs, you can still see the glitter of the gold which used to belong to ancient Thracian rulers, you can still smell the unforgettable scent of the Bulgarian rose. Beautiful and expressive is the traditional music of Thrace, rich and various is its music folklore. You can sense the peace and beauty of its traditional songs and of the sound of its sweet shepherds’ flutes.  The Thracian folklore conveys the spirituality and high morale of our ancestors. Each piece of music created by ordinary people is a revelation, joy and sorrow, which have been passed down from generation to generation and which still keep the secret every Bulgarian bears in their hearts.
Pretty and proud are Thracian young women. Having decorated their hair with dewy flowers, they wait for their lads by the spring or the well in the evening. Their songs exhale tenderness, and their dances are alive with cheerfulness and gaiety. 

In early spring, as soon as the first snowdrops appear in the gardens, dreadful mummers with scary masks hang heavy bells around their waists and wander all over Thrace to drive the severe winter away with the horrifying clank of the bells, and to welcome spring with their dances.
On the first day of spring, early in the morning, housewives hang out red aprons, girdles, yarn, rugs or just red threads to protect the house from evil, illnesses and poverty. As soon as March sees them, it will smile and the sun will start shining.
Lots of legends are told all over Thrace about the famous Bulgarian martenitsa - twined tasselled red and white threads, the symbol of spring and health  which each and every Bulgarian ties around the wrist of their relatives on the first of March to wish them health and luck.
On Sunday before Easter, St. Lazarus’s Day, young maids go to every house to wish good health and harvest. They try to predict their own future – who is the first to get married. That is why they leave a bracelet, a ring, a necklace or a bunch of flowers in a copper bucket. The copper bucket stays overnight under blooming rose bushes, and in the morning a previously chosen girl takes out of the bucket the items one by one and prophesies which lad each girl will marry. 
Thracian women are extremely skilful. Amazing embroidery is born under their hands, colourful flowers bloom on their shirts and dresses, and the colours of the rainbow are reflected in the home-woven motley rugs.
In South Thrace an ancient custom is still kept alive – fire-dancing. By the end of May people light blazing fires, then they spread their embers in a circle, around which they dance in a ring, carrying the icons of St. Constantine and Helen. Bare-footed, the fire-dancers, mostly women, step on the glowing embers and perform their breathtaking dance, believing that their patrons Saints Constantine and Helen protect them from being burnt by the fire.

Such has been Bulgarian Thrace since time immemorial – alive, unfathomable, mysterious and fascinatingly beautiful, cheerful and playful, genuine and eternal...