Bansko - Bulgaria's “Little Switzerland”

четвъртък, 12 март 2009 г.

Culture and Events


Events and Holidays

Apart from national holidays, there are several local festivities on Bansko territory, which should not be missed by any self-respecting tourist. For those who find Bulgarian art, music and dance more interesting than a day of skiing or hiking, Bansko’s museums and festival stages will give something to remember.

If playing instruments, made of skinned sheep is not your cup of tea, then listen to some good jazz on the annual Jazz festival, or go eat and drink as much as you can on our personal favourite Sudzhuk Festival – Bansko’s own way of celebrating good food.

  • December 25th – Christmas Concert – Community Center Hall – 17.00h
  • December 25th – Christmas Mass – “Holy Trinity” Church - 8.00 – 10.30h
  • January 1st 2009 – “Happy New Year” – A Holiday Folklore Concert and Kukeri Festival– Central Square
  • January 14th 2009 –A Festival of the Banski sudzhuk and red wine – Central Square – 17.00h
  • May 17-25th 2009 – Days of the Bansko traditions – dedicated to notable enlighteners, concerts of amateur artists, display of traditional outfits and cuisine from Bansko, art exhibitions, best hotel, street and summer garden competitions, Flower holiday
  • May 24 – 25th 2009 – “Between Three Mountains” – Folklore festival for authentic Bulgarian songs
  • May 24th 2009 – Day of the Slavonic Culture and Alphabet – Official start of the Summer tourist season
  • June 19th 2009 - Celebrating the day of St. Paisiy Hilendarski
  • July 23th 2009 – 67 years since the execution of Nikola Vaptsarov and 57 years of museums in Bansko
  • August 8-13th 2009 – International Jazz Festival “Bansko 2009”
  • September 2009 – Pirin Folk Bulgaria – Bansko International Festival for Original Bulgarian songs
  • October 5th 2009 – Day of Bansko, 97 years from the liberation from Turkish rule
  • November 1th 2009 – Day of the Bulgarian Enlighteners, 216 years since the birth of Neofit Rilski
Macedonian music

Bansko is in the Bulgarian part of Macedonia, a huge region stretching from southwestern Bulgaria to the eastern borders of Albania, and taking in portions of northern Greece besides. Macedonia became politically fragmented in the political turmoil of the early twentieth century.

Macedonian music and folklore still form the bedrock of local Bansko traditions, however, and the music heard in local restaurants or performed by local heritage societies is subtly different from that found in the rest of Bulgaria.

The use of bagpipes, shepherds’ flutes and a huge booming drum known as the tupan combine to give Macedonian music a lyrical majesty that you’ll be hard put to find anywhere else.

The majority of the band’s playing in Bansko’s folk-style restaurants concentrate on a crowd-pleasing repertoire of sentimental songs which feature the word “Macedonia” in the lyrics as many times as possible. Main subject matter of such songs appears to be the plight of Macedonian maidens awaiting the return of boys who have left to join anti-Ottoman guerrillas. The majority of Macedonian songs contain seven or nine beats to the bar rather than the customary four, making it well-nigh impossible to tap your foot to them unless you have a degree in mathematics.

Although female solo singing is an important part of the musical landscape in other parts of Macedonia, it is the male group that rules the roost in Bansko. In fact there’s a distinct style of male singing in Bansko, with a solo voice backed by strident, raw-sounding harmonies.


Winter festivals

Winter brings out the weirder side of Bulgarian folklore, with the menfolk of small towns and villages donning animal masks and cow bells to perform daft-as-a-brush dances to ensure peace and fertility in the coming year. Known as kukeri or mummers, the dancers aim to drive away malevolent spirits, who use the long dark nights of winter as cover for their pranks. Kukeri rites are enacted in many areas of Bulgaria around January 1, although some communities celebrate on January 14 (New Year’s Day according to an old Orthodox Christian Calendar which still endures in some areas).

Bansko traditionally celebrates the kukeri rituals on January 1. On the same day, even bigger kukeri processions take place in the nearby town of Razlog, where neighbourhoods compete to dress up in the most outlandish costumes.

Kukeri rituals marking the end of winter take place on Easter Sunday in Eleshnitsa Village 20km east of Bansko, where men in huge hairy headdresses scamper crazily round the main square.

Name days

In Bulgaria, one’s name day is considered as important as a birthday. It is customary to buy treats for family members and colleagues. Take note of the dates below and ingratiate yourself with any Bulgarians you meet by buying them a shot of rakia on their name day. Either that, or exploit your own by getting lashings of free drinks from your friends and acquaintances. When in Rome and all that.

• 5th December –St. Sava - Sava, Savka, Slavi, Slavka, Vladislav, Vladislava
• 6th December - Nikulden (St. Nikolai ’s Day) – Nikola, Nikolai, Nikolina, Nenka, Neno, Nina, Kolyo
• 9th December – St. Anna – Anna, Ana
• 24th December – Badni vecher (Christmas Eve) – Evegenia, Evgeni, Biser, Bistra, Bozhin, Bozhana, Bisera, Bozhan
• 25th December – Christmas – Hristo, Hristina, Radostin, Radoslav, Radomir
• 1st January – Vasilyovden - Vasil, Vasilena, Veselin, Vasko, Vesela
• 6th January – Yordanovden (St. Jordan’s day) – Yordan, Yordanka, Dancho, Danka, Bozhan, Bozhana, Dana, Bogdan, Bogdana
• 7th January – Ivanovden - Ivan, Ivanka, Vanya, Yoan, Yoana, Yova, Zhan, Zhana
• 17th January – Antonovden – Anton, Andon, Antoniya, Toncho, Tonka
• 18th January – Atanasovden - Atanas, Atanaska, Tanas, Naso, Nasya
• 1st February – Trifonovden - Trifon, Trifonka
• 10th February- St. Haralampi – Haralampi, Valentin, Valentina
• 13th February – Evlogi, Zoya
• 1st March – Marta, Martin, Evdokia
• 4th March – Gerasim
• 9th March -The Holy 40th Martyrs - Mladen, Mladenka
• 10th March – Galya, Galin, Galina
• 19th March – Daria, Nayden, Nayda
• 25th March – Blagoveshtenie (the Annunciation) – Blagovest, Blagovesta, Blagoy, Blaga, Evangelina, Vangel
• 28th March – Albena, Boyan, Boyko, Boyka

Famous Bulgarians born in Bansko

Nikola VaptsarovA controversial national hero, praised as a poet, despite of his communist ideas, Nikola Vaptsarov was born in Bansko on the 7th of December 1909. His family name originates from his grandfather’s craft, who was dying fabrics (in Bulgarian “vaptsam” means to paint or dye). He attended the Naval Mechanical School in Varna, which was later turned into a Naval Academy and named after him.

His only poetry collection “Motor Songs”, praising the machines and the working class was translated into 60 languages and earned him a World Peace Award in 1952. Unfortunately, due to his anti-Nazi revolutionary activities, he was executed by a firing squad in 1942. Letter "Do you remember Sea and engines Holds, full of Sticky gloom? And that wild longing For the Philippines, For the big stars Over Famagusta?" Translated from: Писмо "Ти помниш ли морето и машините и трюмовете, пълни с лепкав мрак? И онзи див копнеж по Филипините, по едрите звезди над Фамагуста?"

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