Bulgarian Roses Traditions

Posted by Jacqui Macneill on

When people think of Valentine’s Day flowers they often think of the Roses. Roses have always been the symbol of love because of their beauty and intoxicating scent. However, there is much more to a rose than the traditional clichés associated with passion and romance. For instance, the rose contains a special essential oil that can only be extracted with great care and love—yielding a fragrant natural substance that can be used for many purposes such as healing skin, aiding love and compassion as well as easing depression and anxiety. Escents Aromatherapy prides itself on sourcing its rose oil from some of the finest farms in the world.

Located in central Bulgaria, lies the rose valley—often known as the “Valley of Roses”—where the Bulgarian oil-bearing rose flourishes. The heavy, June rain fall and the bright sunshine, combined with the humid winds and cool nights create the perfect, temperate climate in which these delicate plants thrive. When the flowers are ready for harvest, each flower is picked by hand. Approximately 3,000 kilos of rose petals are needed to make one kg of rose oil. Meaning, about 30 blossoms are needed for just one tiny drop of oil—thus making it one of the most expensive oils in the world.

Once the petals are picked, the blossoms are sent to be distilled. The distillation process is quite complex; involving placing the blossoms and water in giant, copper stills. The stills are then fired for approximately one hour, allowing the water to vaporize—what is left is pure Rose Otto.

In Bulgaria, on the first Sunday in June, the city of Kazanlak starts the celebrations for the Festival of Roses. This fun filled event was held for the first time in 1903 and was intended to celebrate the harvest of this beautiful flower. Today, the festivities stretch out over a week, ending with a traditional beauty pageant where the most beautiful contestant is picked and crowned “Queen of the Roses”. It’s a wonderful festival that is symbolic of the lifestyle and culture of the Kazanlak region.

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