(…or to keep for yourself!)
It’s a perfect time to showcase traditional crafts and local produce from Bulgaria which has an abundance of unique gift ideas that will suit most people’s taste. With the notion of doubling up for Christmas inspiration and the low-down on souvenir presents, here’s the top five:
1. Rose Products
Bulgaria is the second biggest world producer of rose oil and it’s history dates as far back to the 1600’s. Celebrating its heritage by the yearly Rose Festival in Kazunluk, it is no surprise that there are a diverse selection of rose inspired products in the majority of the shops. From sweet smelling soaps, perfumes and toiletries to delicate oils and even a brandy, they’ll be a perfect complement for your skin, health and indulgence!
2. Arts & Crafts
With various trades of craftsmanship being passed down through generations, Bulgarian artisans have a wealth skills transformed into imaginative creations. If you want an icon-religious or contemporary piece of art, a hand-carved wooden item, a beautiful piece of silver jewellery, or handmade textile then you can be sure their culture and customs have been entwined in some way, either in keeping with traditional methods or have been tailor-made with a modern twist.
Traditional, homemade spices and herbs can be found in any town or city local market and are often sold by an old baba who’s ground the spice or herb direct from her own garden produce. Choose from ground chilli or flakes, paprika, chubritsa (herb), sharena sol (herb salt). Also popular to buy from a market are dried fruits, nuts and honey. A hand-wrapped selection, or a take-home souvenir will guarantee to keep the taste of Bulgarian cuisine alive, plus it won’t weigh heavy in your bag on your return journey!
Troyan pottery is sold in most cities and big towns and can be bought in a range of vibrant colours, sizes and styles which reflect the natural influences and methods from centuries ago. Although much of this type of pottery is mass-produced and is the most popular type of pottery, there are plenty of unique, handmade items that can be bought independently, both in the Troyan design and in more contemporary creations. Other regions, such as Veliko Tarnovo, also have their own unique style of ceramics.
Wine regions in Bulgaria are finally being given global credit for their wine production and its current reputation far surpasses their previous image and quality from the 1970s. Given Bulgaria’s climate and viticulture, which dates back to ancient Thrace (and the Greek god of ‘Dionysus’), vineyards are now creating deep flavours and aromas from local varieties from the five major wine areas of Bulgaria. And, if you know someone who really appreciates a hard liquor, you could also give them a taste of a local rakia for a present too!