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First Festival of Ritual Bread in Bulgaria to take place near the Danube

The event tells about the traditional culture of the old local population called "Herzoi"

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Photo: Facebook /@museumruse

On June 25, the ruins of the medieval fortress Cherven near Ruse will become the venue of the first Festival of Ritual Bread, organized by the Regional Historical Museum in the city. The participants will show ritual breads, which are an integral part of ancient Bulgarian ancient customs – breads for a wedding, for Easter, St. George's Day, Midsummer Day, Trifon Zarezan. The idea is to share method for making bread, preserved in the practice of two ethnographic groups that inhabit this part of Bulgaria.

"We are organizing the festival of ritual bread in one of the sites of the Ruse Regional Historical Museum, and for us this is a good opportunity to combine several practices”, Iskra Todorova, curator at the Regional History Museum in Ruse and one of the organizers of the festival,told Radio Bulgaria:

“Cherven is a famous tourist site and this is yet another opportunity to liven up this place. It is located amidst beautiful nature, very picturesque with the meanders of the river Rusenski Lom. It looks very romantic. On the other hand, the Herzoi - an old local population, are not very well known compared to other ethnographic groups in Bulgaria, such as the Shopi. This is one of the goals of the festival - to present their traditional culture. As well as the Kapantsi - another interesting ethnographic group. We focused on ritual breads because they are a very important part of the customs. For us Bulgarians, bread is an emanation of food. So much so that when we say bread, we often mean food in general. Interestingly, even today, although traditional practices have been greatly reduced, even if we do not do everything as we did a hundred years ago, bread remains a sustainable element of every ritual table.

Ten institutions have applied for the festival, which is competitive in nature - community centers, retirement clubs, as well as children from one social home, who will show different culinary techniques, we learn from Ms. Todorova. She also tells us more about the characteristic features of ritual breads in this part of Bulgaria:

“There are perhaps small differences in holiday practices compared to other folklore regions. The memory of Karamanovden is still preserved - a holiday in honour of bulls, which is not found in other areas. But essentially ritual breads have the same function and purpose - they are a major part of the ritual table. The Bulgarian ethnographer Dimitar Marinov described the custom "keeping of the yeast" in the Ruse region, which is found among the old local population in several villages around the Danube town. He also left a huge collection of drawings on plastic decoration. Our museum has a remarkable collection of gypsum castings of ritual breads - more than a hundred. We hope that the groups that will participate in the festival will show some of the breads missing in this collection. And to provide them to us after the competition so that we can make plaster castings for the museum's fund."

English version Rositsa Petkova

Photos: Facebook /@museumruse, Facebook /@medievalcherven

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