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Occupation- related custom of rose picking for rose oil production


In the mid 19th century the so-called Rose Valley was formed in the area between Kazanlak, Karlovo and Strelcha - all famous rose producers in the country. Strelcha is the biggest rose-production region in Bulgaria - a fact little known but significant enough. Oil-yielding roses are grown to over 4200 acres of agricultural land and this has been a traditional local means of livelihood and occupation for centuries. The unique combination of fertile soil and a favorable climate create conditions for the extraction of the highest quality rose oil in Bulgaria. Additionally, lavender is also grown in open fields in the area. Late spring is the rose-picking season in Bulgaria - the lovely, yet also tiring ceremony of collecting the rose blossoms of the oil-bearing Rosa Damascena and Rosa Alba varieties. Traditionally in Strelcha the rose-picking activity is carried out and celebrated in spring time, usually mid May. Rose-picking lasts some twenty days - from the end of May to mid-June, the blossoms are immediately processed in a ceaseless round-the-clock rhythm. The production of 1 kg of rose oil necessitates 3-3,5 tonnes of red or 5-6 tonnes of white oleagnous rose blossoms. Rose-picking is done manually at day­break when there is dew on the blossoms. The blossoms must not be fully open to keep their qualities in tact. The water-steam distillation makes the Bulgarian ethereal rose oil, known as 'rose attar' a valuable component of many perfumes and cosmetic products. Besides in cosmetics, it is also used in medicine and in aromatherapy.The rose blossoms so picked up are transferred to purchasing points. The main buyers are 'Bulgarian Rose' - Plovdiv, 'Bulgarian Rose' - Kazanlak, 'RozaBul' and 'MIG 93' of Strelcha citizen Genchev Ilko, owner of a private distillery for distillation of essential oils in Strelcha. He built the rose distillery in 1999 and since then has been overwhelmed with orders from abroad.Rose-pisking is not only a symbol of beauty, carried through the centuries to the present day, but also part of the mentality of strelchans, their traditions and way of life of the community.


Municipality of Strelcha; 'Enlightenment' Cultural Community Center


The rose-picking activity is a significant event in the municipality both in economical and cultural terms. Rose production is still a significant branch in the area's economy but it also has regional and national significance since this is the biggest rose-production area in the country and Bulgaria is famous worldwide for its rose oil products. On the other hand this economic activity has penetrated deeply into the local community culture and customs so nowadays it is of cultural significance contributing to the authenticity of the area. The Rose Festival held each year is familiarizing its guests and visitors with the process of rose-gathering and extraction of the rose-oil, along with the authentic local folklore and traditions. International importance

Potential usability

A competitive advantage can be achieved by transforming the municipality of Strelcha into year-round 'rose capital' of Bulgaria, as along with the industry for the cultivation of oilseed crops there can be offered a specific integrated tourist product to local and international visits. The intangible value of rose picking is well presented in the Rose festival. Itl is a successful example of exploiting the development potential of the rose-picking activity to achieve this goal. The festival begins with ritual rose picking and continues with the contest for the selection of Queen of Roses. It is held annually since 1996 in the end of each spring (the last Saturday of May) and has become a tradition, known throughout the country. Problems are the small subsidies and low purchase prices of the rose-blossoms. To produce one liter of rose oil are needed about 2 tons of rose blossoms.

CTRIA HCC RoT Občina Jesenice CMS PAT PRA UNSPMF Chamber of Economy of Vojvodina