The culture of the population from the villages in the Podgorie (Belasitsa Mountain foothills) is sharing many of the traditions of the region of Petrich and Sandanski. The imigration of Bulgarian families from the villages in the Aegean in the 1920s left a memorable mark on the local forms of material and spiritual culture.
Typical means of living for the region were the agriculture and stock-breeding, some woodworking crafts, growing of flax and hemp as a textile raw material and silkworm-breeding as additional, but widely-covered means of living.
The silkworm-breeding started to progress a lot in the1940s. People got 20-25 cocoons from a single box of silkworm seed. They themselves used to spin the silk threads using a traditional technique (a silk thread was 1000-1500 cm long). The traditional practice in silk- spinning includes the following: people pour the cocoons with boiling water, after that using a small broom they get as many threads as needed to form a string and start to roll it up on the rod. In the more Modern times, they give the cocoons to silk factories for further treatment.
Honey production has been preserved in the area until nowadays thanks to its healing powers. In the past, people used simple beehives made of willow twigs and plastered up with beef manure from the inside and outside. They also used to put rye sheaves called “vik” on the hives to protect them from cold, heat and moisture.
The chestnut honey is one of the most unique products in Belasitsa. It’s a liquid consistency with slightly bitter taste, dark colour and has the aroma of a chestnut blossom. The honey crystalizes slowly, as initially it looks like butter but then it turns into coarse crystals. It’s recommended against ventricular and kidney diseases. It lowers the blood circulation in the liver.
Crafts are the main means of living of the population in the towns and some of the big villages in the region of Belasitsa during the 19th and until the middle of 20th century. Unfortunately a large part of the crafts and traditions in have already been lost. The development of sustainable forms of tourism in the region and the creation of Belasitsa Nature Park could definitely help to preserve the crafts and traditional means of living in the area.
Woodworking has long-established traditions in this region. The spindle-makers and whittlers used materials from lime, poplar, beech, willow and alder trees as the most appropriate ones. The spindle-maker used them to prepare spindles for spinning and spinning-wheel spindles; the whittler made different types of spoons, ladles, wooden bowls, troughs and bread-troughs. Cooperage is another well-established craft, where people worked with wooden materials from chestnut, mulberry and oak trees to prepare vats for bacon, wine and marc, pickles, small lumps to beat butter, containers for water, rolling- pins, yarn-beams for the looms. Making pack saddles was one of the most developed crafts up to now. This was due to great demand for pack saddles, because the region has mountain relief and cargo animals were used a lot.
Pottery-making is a traditional and well-developed craft for the whole south-western part of Bulgaria. It was so well developed until the 1950s because the villages at the foothills of Belasitsa didn’t have water-mains and the population used a lot of pottery. The potters’ amount of work grew steadily due to the need for clay pipes during the drainage of villages.
Every village used to have a smith. He was responsible for maintaining the farm equipment. On the back of the agricultural instruments one can find the initials of its owner or those of the smith, while next to it stands the letter “s” for smith.
Copper processing was a well-developed craft in the region of Petrich. The coppersmiths were called bakardzhii during the Ottoman rule. The craft started to lose its importance in the last decades of the 20th century when the enamel wares gained popularity and also a high tax was imposed on the copper.