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"Folklore is what makes Bulgaria unique in Europe and the world," young photographer Milen Milanov says

Photo: Milen Milanov

Photo of a Bulgarian girl wearing national folk costume and the Bulgarian flag in the foreground is the winner of the second prize in the photography competition "A Snapshot of Europe 2021”, organized by the EPP Group in the European Parliament. The author of the photo is 29-year-old Milen Milanov from the town of Breznik in western Bulgaria, who will receive a special medal and a certificate for his participation. The winner this year is Italian Florian Gasser and third place was taken by another photo from Bulgaria by Valentina Terrewkova.

Milen's success is a proof that the pandemic cannot extinguish positivism and can be a basis of rethinking our values. The young man started shooting landmarks, events and traditional customs with the coming of the first Covid wave to Bulgaria in early 2020.

"I started touring the region around Breznik where I live and started shooting interesting photos, getting to know the area more and more. Subsequently, I started participating regularly in many online events and competitions. I also took part in this competition, which was organized on the occasion of Europe Day - May 9 and the photos had to be sent by May 31. I sent a photo, which was shot during the traditional Vidovden festival in Breznik," Milen Milanov has told BNR.

Vidovden in Bulgaria is associated with the belief in the inevitable punishment of sinners, but the tradition of celebrating it is preserved mainly in the western regions of the country. It is celebrated on June 15 or on June 28. The holiday is also celebrated in Serbia, mostly in the eastern part of the country, including in the Western Outlands, where a large number of ethnic Bulgarians live.

"Folklore is something that makes our country unique in Europe and across the world," Milen Milanov says. He has already taken part in another European challenge – the International Youth Competition

“Intangible Cultural Heritage: Next Generation”, organized by the UNESCO Regional Center for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe, based in Sofia. The occasion is the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the UN and 65 years of Bulgaria's accession to the organization.

"I participate with a project that includes text and photographs of the Surva tradition in the village of Sadovik near Breznik. I focused on the local traditions and a curious fact is that on the night of January 14, the participants go out to light ritual fires and visit the local houses. The Surva tradition is linked to the time of feudal unrest in the Ottoman Empire in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The locals started making ritual masks and animal faces for protection. It is curious that the survakars from the area of the village are different than the well-known mummers who chase the evil forces away. Rather, they bless people for prosperity and health, which is the main difference," the photographer adds.

Compiled by: Vessela Krasteva /based on an interview with Lili Goleminova, BNR-Radio Sofia/

English: Alexander Markov

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