Buying a souvenir from the destination that we visit is a tradition for sentimental, and even not that very sentimental, people. The objects linked with emotional value keep our memories alive and remind us of the good times and the beauties that we have seen.
The most frequently purchased souvenirs are magnet for the fridge or stamped T-shirt with sights of the destination or playful and funny captions. Surely you can find them in the souvenirs shops here, but be prepared for a little more specific sense of humor by the Bulgarians – mostly sarcastic and verging on black humor that may seem like pure complaining, but when you get used to it you will realize that they find this funny!
Bulgaria, however, also offers a variety of traditional souvenirs such as “liquid gold”, which are products with and made from rose oil. Furthermore, you will find beautifully painted pottery for cooking and serving, carvings, kuker dolls, paintings of seascapes in the coastal cities, traditional table covers from the villages and many others.
The rose oil and roses are an emblematic part of the country and its contribution to the world. Until 1983 Bulgaria was the champion in exporting “liquid gold”. In the town of Kazanlak, the Rose Festival takes place every year accompanied by many celebrations and a beauty contest in which the winner receives the title “Rose Queen”. In every drugstore and pharmacy, you will find a wide variety of cosmetic products with rose oil such as face tonic, face creams, soaps and perfumes. The soaps with rose oil are very cheap and effective as something small to remember, or as a gift for a precious woman, they smell great and are in the shape of a small rose, typically they cost about 1,50BNG or €0.75.
The Bulgarian clay vessels are a great and functional souvenir. You can cook special dishes that will give you a lot of taste and smiles. They are part of the Bulgarian village life and even when first used many years ago they still serve actively in modern kitchens at home and in the restaurants and taverns. Stewed potatoes with cheese, “cheese a la shopski”, “giuveche”, meat sach, homemade bread, soup, stew of steamed chicken, rabbit meat, bean soup, baked beans with sausage or mushrooms in butter are all best prepared and served in the clay vessels. We encourage you to go see a cosy Bulgarian tavern (“mehana”) for yourself! If you like the taste, then the beautiful drawings and designs will also win your heart!
In the Black Sea resorts you will undoubtedly encounter magnificent paintings by local artists, each one of them unique, simple and very stylish. This souvenir is also very practical and creates comfort in your home, while winning the attention of visitors with some beautiful landscapes of exotic locations! There are many sizes and different drawing techniques, but the general theme is traditional Bulgarian houses, sea views and colorful small boats.
In Bulgaria every city on the map and the various villages around have different traditional wear, with different colors and techniques of craftsmanship. They are sold at all kind of fairs and souvenir shops for all the lovers of a special souvenir. If you’re curious, you can throw an eye and article about them! Usually the authentic and well preserved costumes are quite expensive. In most cases you will encounter a new production rather than something that has been worn by our grandparents. This does not mean that they are very different – all costumes are made mainly by hand and take a lot of time, attention and labor. If you are looking for something small and decorative we offer you the small dolls dressed up in traditional costumes.
The “Kukers” are something very interesting also! We strongly recommend that you see some kuker games at least once in your life! They are usually conducted during the cold winter months because the costumes are very warm and very heavy? Moreover, to be kuker requires a lot of movement and a very good mood. And what is that “kuker” thing anyway? Men and women are making their costumes all year long to get involved in the ritual dancing. The kuker costumes are made mainly by natural materials such as animal skins, feathers and horns. The aim is to look scary and creepy and drive away the evil spirits in the area.
Souvenirs with kukers could be small dolls, magnets, big kuker masks, “tchan” copper bells and whatever else the imagination of local artists can give birth to. Generally, you can find some in any traditional souvenir shop, but it is certain that you will find them in the city of Pernik, located near the capital Sofia. It is the most popular festival city for kukeri dancing, which is usually held in late January.
The Bulgarian embroidery – this is the art that the Bulgarian woman uses in the creation of the traditional costumes. The shapes and the colors are exquisite and very carefully made. Along with the help of the color they aim to “talk” to express the rich spirit and tradition of the home to which they belong. Basic colors in the elaboration are red and green, the color of the mother’s blood and the color of the occurring eternal life. The most common structure is a rhombus.
Except in the production of traditional costumes, embroidery is being embroidered on table covers, covers and handkerchiefs. If you do like colorful geometric covers and tablecloths you can provide another practical souvenir for home.
PS: When there were still “fat” TVs, the covers did a great job against the dust and the sunlight, but alas there in no space for them anymore! Well, using them to cover cupboards, shelves or as a tablecloth is still an option!
Souvenir musical instruments! They are sympathetic and funny. On every festival, no matter its subject, you will find a stall of miniature, decorative musical instruments such as bagpipes, flutes (kaval), copper bells (tchan), fiddles (gadulka), drums (tupan or davul) and others.