‘’We also gave something to the world …” These words are very often heard during celebrations of remarkable events from Bulgarian history and culture. Bulgaria ranks third in the world by number and variety of cultural-historical monuments. Seven civilizations have developed intensively throughout the last 4,000 years in today’s Bulgarian land. But do we really know our whole history? What do we do to help our children understand it better? In the modern extremely cosmopolitan world, do we take care to preserve and develop true Bulgarian traditions and culture?
One of our most exciting holidays is 24th May – The Day of Bulgarian Enlightenment and Culture and of Slavonic Alphabet. The holiday is celebrated everywhere in the world where our countrymen live. As already mentioned by IBA.Bulgaria, according to data of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad, more than 1000 organisations of Bulgarians are registered in the world, which will, in one way or another, celebrate this special day every year.
This year, one of the most remarkable examples of the timeless Bulgarian culture around the world was the festival “Bulgaria – Cradle of European civilization”. The place is also symbolic – Amsterdam, the city where more than 180 nationalities live. What better place to present our special history and cultural heritage to such a diverse audience.
The two-day festival, held on 26 and 27 may, was organised by association “Bulgarian Education and Culture” with chairman Elitsa Yordanova. It was founded only five years ago, but for that time it became the biggest and most active Bulgarian educational and cultural organisation in the Netherlands.
The idea of the festival was to celebrate Bulgarian culture not only with Bulgarians, but also with foreigners. A well-accomplished goal – the event was attended by more than 650 people. The entrance was decorated in the colours of the Bulgarian flag and after the first steps in the main hall, the guests were already feeling closer to home with the sound of Bulgarian speech and excited children and young girls in traditional Bulgarian costumes.
The first part of both festival days offered visitors an exhibition of over 40 unique Bulgarian artefacts, replicas of the most famous Thracian treasures – made by the best Bulgarian masters and presented by “Crafts from the Thracian lands” foundation.
Thanks to the designer Gloria Angelova, the visitors had the chance to enjoy traditional Bulgarian embroidery. Guests could also taste selected Bulgarian wines provided by Tony Dimitrov from Bulwine. Books telling the ancient history of Bulgaria’s creation and intertwining cultures on our lands have also attracted visitors attention. The event succeeded to captivate its guests and invite them to a journey through strong feelings of pride.
The moment when guests really went away from the Netherlands and felt at home was the concert program during the two afternoons. The selection of performances constantly mixed modern with classic, showing the life of Bulgarian culture and art before and today. On May 26th the guests had the pleasure to hear a concert of the talented singing and dancing children from ensemble ‘’Zagorche’’ and enjoy the performance of one of the most famous Bulgarian kaval player – Zhivko Vassilev and his band “Autentic’’.
27th May also brought many Bulgarian songs and dances to the Dutch capital. The program included performances of the children’s folk dance group “Bulgarche”, led by Djulia Barumova, “Club for Bulgarian Folk Dances”, led by Clavdia Genova and a club for Bulgarian folk dances “Zora” with leaders Nikola Petkova and Yavor Gospodinov – all from the Hague. The culmination of the festival was the final performance of the festive program – a concert of ensemble ’’Chubritsa’’, composed mainly of people of Dutch origin who sing Bulgarian folk songs, with conductor Renske Velthuis
At the end of the exciting performance of ensemble ”Chubritsа ”, the whole audience got up and started dancing Horo. It is exciting when you are on the other end of Europe and you attend a festival with so many different people, young, old, Bulgarians and foreigners who dance, sing and are thrilled by Bulgarian culture.
Such an event requires a lot of help and assistance for its organisation. Part of the Bulgarian business in the Netherlands supported the event, seeing its potential and significance. The festival was also visited by important personalities such as guests from the State Agency for Bulgarians abroad, Angel Djambazki, the Ambassador and Consul of Bulgaria at the Embassy in The Hague. This is how the chairman of the Bulgarian Education and Culture Association – Elitsa Yordanova* expressed her gratitude:
‘’Just a few hours after the end of our great holiday, I am still under the influence of the emotions I experienced during these two days, friends!
The feeling is great, indescribable…
Meet and interact with people from all over the world, people with big hearts, people who share your dreams, your smiles and even your tears!
People you never met before, but immediately felt them close to your heart!
People who hear the song of your soul – a song about our beautiful Bulgaria!
People who come into your life, take your hand and show you that you are not alone on the road!
Thank you with all my heart for the understanding, the moral and financial support and for the help before, during and after the festival!
Be strong and blessed!’’
This festival in Amsterdam is an example of the fact that wherever we are in the world, we must not forget that we are Bulgarians because we carry serious inheritance and potential within us. The successes of our compatriots around the world are countless, and initiatives such as “Bulgaria – the cradle of European civilization” – strengthen the sense of belonging and prosperity. Such events are another opportunity to gather together in a place that creates contacts, generates ideas, gives opportunities for future projects and glorifies our country.
* As Chair of the Bulgarian Education and Culture Association, Elitsa Yordanova is a member and official Ambassador of IBA.Bulgaria in the Netherlands.