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Celebrating the Rose

Celebrating the Rose
June 3, 2000

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Rudy: "Ever wonder why good perfume is so pricey? Sure, part of it's the fancy packaging and expensive marketing campaigns, but it's also the fact that it takes 2,000 rose petals to make just a single gram of attar of roses, that's rose oil, and the essential component in most famous perfumes. That's just a little bit of the rose trivia visitors to the Festival of Roses in Bulgaria will learn. Joining us with more in this week's Culture Watch is Michelle Kholos. Michelle, give us the scoop on this festival."

Michelle: "O.K., well, the Festival of Roses is celebrated during the first half of June in Bulgaria's Valley of Roses. The rose picking starts very early in the morning, before dawn, to capture the fragrance before, they say, it's lost to the sun. So early risers can watch the picking and those that roll out of bed later can watch the rose-distilling process."

Rudy: "You know, I just never made the association between Bulgaria and roses."

Michelle: "Well, I didn't either until I found out that 70 percent of all rose attar comes from Bulgaria, supposedly it's the best. And that one gram of rose attar that you mentioned just a minute ago, it wholesales for about $20."

Rudy: "Ah, that's why Valentine's Day can get so expensive!"

Michelle: "Yeah, well it's a good thing for Bulgaria. The rose has been tied to the economy in there for a really long time. They've been famous since the 1700s, but the first official Festival of Roses didn't take place until 1903. And actually, in the early part of the 20th century, all proceeds from the event were given out to poor families. But by the time the first celebration of national scale was held in Pavel Banya in 1967, it was less about economics and charity, and more about national pride and preserving nature."


Rudy: "Rose oil is also used in homeopathic medicine, right?"

Michelle: "Yes. The ancient Egyptians and Greeks both used it. Hippocrates and his disciples believed that it 'augments the strength of the brain and the quickness of wit'."

Rudy: "Send some my way!"

Michelle: "Incidentally, they also look fabulous in my office."

Rudy: "Noted. What's the date?"

Michelle: "March... Oh, you mean the festival, not my birthday?"

Rudy: "Uh huh. Culture watch, remember?"

Michelle: "Right. The Festival of Roses begins June 1st in Bulgaria."


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