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Bulgarian Voices - Light, Love and Rituals

On Oct 9, 2014 at the The Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies in Boston University, Massachusetts was held the event “Bulgarian Voices- Light, Love and Rituals" with the support of the Bulgarian Cultural Center "Madara".
The reason for the event was the presentation of the book "Mystical Emona." The book is written by Neli Tontcheva in collaboration with Rebecca Carter under the pseudonym Ronesa Aveeila.

The main idea of the event was to present the book and old Bulgarian traditions, customs and rituals described in the book.
Special guests were:
Geni Skendo: talented flute player and musician who presented music from the Balkans.
“Ludo Mlado” folklore dance group led by Pepi Petrov. They presented rich musical program with authentic Bulgarian folklore dances.
After beautiful sounds of the of the flute and colorful dances of “Ludo Mlado” the authors of the book gave a lecture in which visitors acquainted with the contents of the book, what inspired them to write and customs which are described in it.

The book is a modern tale, filled with passion, love and longing. An impossible love between a mortal and veela (samodiva) who loses her lover and wants to meet him again after centuries. Although this is a modern fairy tale, it has many Thracian rituals, beliefs and things of Bulgarian customs and culture woven in the story for readers to discover and learn.

The ancient Thracians might have been forgotten, but their traditions remain alive through the customs, folk tales, and beliefs of modern Bulgarians. A region in Bulgaria even today is called Thrace. Here, as well as throughout the country, numerous festivals and celebrations incorporated into Christianity have Thracian roots.

“Mystical Emona” is a book and art exhibit and were inspired by a place called Emona and these modern Thracian traditions. The wild beauty of this secluded, mystical place located on the Black Sea, the people and history hidden from the world, left a deep impression on her when she visited there in 1998.

One of the main characters in the book is a samodiva or veela. Samodivi are one of the most enchanting mythological creatures in Bulgarian folklore, and legends about them are still alive. In many villages, people pay respect to them and are also afraid of these creatures who can seduce men with their beautiful singing. Readers of the book can envision how they looked, where they lived, and how they danced like silver butterflies under the full moon to the music of a kaval (shepherd’s pipe).

The village of Emona, where the story takes place, is famous for being the legendary birthplace of Thracian king Rhesus, who fought in the Trojan War. According to Homer's Iliad, he was killed by Odysseus and Diomedes. Emona is a secluded, wild village on Black Sea coast, hidden from the eyes of the world, but filled with history and a soul of its own.

According to the authors of the book preservation of traditions and their transmission from generation to generation are very important to people. Transmitted from generation to generation culture and traditions are part of our cultural heritage. They promote respect for cultural diversity and human creativity and to empower us to connect to the future. Continuing them in our own family is a great way to teach our children about the family’s cultural and religious history and adding to their personal identity.
The authors are working on a small nonfiction book which will describe the traditions of the book with more facts on the basis of their long-term study and research. It will be published in late December 2014 and is a wonderful gift for Christmas. The illustrations of the book are pictures of Nelinda (www.nelinda.com) cycle "Mystical Emona."

While researching “Mystical Emona: Soul’s Journey,” the authors of the book came across some interesting tidbits of information about Bulgaria and its inhabitants. Some of these are incorporated into the story; others may be used in future novels as the journey continues.
The Cyrillic alphabet was invented by two Bulgarian monks. Bulgarians are proud of this fact, and get quite annoyed with the rest of the world for attributing the alphabet to Russians.
Bulgarians created yogurt. Truly, they did. Way back in the time of the Thracians. I kid you not. You can find more than three hundred varieties in the country, and many popular dishes are made with yogurt.

 Shaking one’s head in Bulgaria means “yes,” while nodding signifies “no.” Think of the nightmares that can cause. I read an article recently by someone travelling in Bulgaria who was approached by a gypsy. When the boy held out his hand for money, the man shook his head. This only encouraged the boy, who smiled eagerly. Believe me. It’s best not to tell a Bulgarian they have this backwards.
 Bulgarians are more likely to celebrate their “name day” than their birthday. “Name day? What’s that?” you might ask. Originally, it was a feast day for a particular saint. So, anyone who had the same name, for example, “Maria” or “Mary,” would celebrate on August 15, the Assumption of Mary. Bulgarians have a lot of saints, so there is no shortage of days to celebrate name days. From what I could gather, way, way back, when people didn’t know what day they were born on (yup, I’m talking a long time ago), they took up this custom of celebrating the feast of the saints since they DID know their own names. So why not have a little fun to mark each passing year?

Bagpipes are played by Bulgarians. Nope, it’s not only done in the United Kingdom. The Bulgarian version is called a gaida.
Famous people with Bulgarian association: Mark Zuckerbuerg, creator of Facebook – his grandfather emigrated from Bulgaria in 1940. Tom Hanks, well-known actor – is married to a Bulgarian. Nina Dobrev, actress on “The Vampire Diaries” (well, maybe you don’t know her, but I like that TV series) – is a Bulgarian.

The book is available on Amazon in the United States and Great Britain:
The second book of the series "Mystic Emona" will be available in December 2015.

To learn more visit:

If you want to contact the authors of the book, write to:


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