Ribnovo village and its authentic wedding ritual

Ribnovo, a village in the Rhodope Mountains, is home to the Pomaks, an ethnic Muslim community. Thanks to their seclusion and close-knit community, they have revived a traditional winter wedding rite that was lost during communism.

Tourists from all over the world come to experience this unique tradition. A unique tradition is made that during a wedding ceremony, the bride comes with her face painted and her eyes closed, a custom called ‘gelina’ that is unique to Ribnovo. After the imam has blessed the new couple and the husband has washed her face with milk, she can finally open her eyes.

The celebration continues in the streets with traditional dances and songs. Ribnovo keeps its culture alive and invites visitors to share in its rich traditions amidst the beauty of the Rhodope Mountains.

Why is it regenerative?

Ribnovo serves as an excellent example of regenerative tourism because it actively revives and preserves age-old traditions, specifically the traditional winter wedding rite. This initiative engages tourists by sharing the unique traditions of the Pomak community, creating an immersive cultural experience that fosters genuine connections between tourists and locals. The practice of ‘gelina,’ with its intricate rituals and symbolism, adds depth to the experience, allowing visitors to witness and appreciate the community’s heritage. Moreover, the economic benefits derived from tourism support the sustainability of the village and its traditions, making Ribnovo a compelling case of regenerative tourism that preserves cultural heritage while promoting economic growth and cultural exchange.

Project partners met in Aveiro on the 14th and 15th of September 2023. It was the perfect opportunity to visit the destination with regenerative glasses on, to understand its many assets but also some of the challenges the destination is facing. Face to face project meetings always provide the partners with the unique opportunity to learn about the work of the hosting partner and get valuable insights about the destination. In this case partners were hosted by the dedicated team of management and tourism professionals of the University of Aveiro who shared a wealth of insights about a city that was new to many of the participants.

The Enforce project is well on track when it comes to the project work plan, which means that after having completed the Best Practice collection of innovative examples about storytelling for regeneration and also the Storyteller’s Guide, partners used the meeting to discuss the development of the Enforce Training Programme.

For the next few months partners will be working on developing the content in line with guidelines provided by the University of Usak, our project partner from Turkey.
The course should be available for piloting in January/February 2024 and will also be available in the partner languages once all translations are finalised.

The ENFORCE team met in the beautiful city of Luxembourg for its kick-off meeting. It took place at the premises of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg (also known as CCIL), which opened its doors to warmly welcome all partners.

The team was aware of the importance of this first meeting and approached it with the same enthusiasm, as it plays an important role in building strong bonds that will contribute to the success of the entire cooperation. With the common goal of building a solid foundation, the participants discussed in depth the first steps required for the project ENFORCE.

During this visit, the project objectives were discussed in depth to ensure that each partner has a comprehensive understanding of the overarching goals. The outcome of the kick-off meeting was extremely satisfying for all partners and generated enthusiasm among the team. It was a success and left everyone inspired and energised.

The journey of ENFORCE has officially begun and with the collective expertise of the committed partners, there is no doubt that it will thrive and achieve remarkable results.


“The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein”

Project N: 2022-1-LU01-KA220-VET-000089887

© 2024 Enforce Project
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