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News 31 Oct 17

Bulgaria Named EU’s Largest Pumpkin Producer on Halloween

The EU’s statistical agency said that the union’s largest grower of pumpkins and squash is Bulgaria, where Halloween is growing in popularity among younger people despite disapproval from religious traditionalists.

Daniel Penev
BIRN
Sofia
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/linking paths

Statistical agency Eurostat said in a Halloween message on Monday that Bulgaria harvested over 132,000 tonnes of pumpkins and squash last year – the largest amount of any EU member state.

“Almost 12 thousand hectares are dedicated to this crop [in Bulgaria],” Eurostat said.

Bulgaria is the only eastern European country among the five largest producers of pumpkins and squash in the EU, coming ahead of Spain (97,100 tonnes), France (95,550), Germany (86,660), and Portugal (75,280).

The other Balkan countries for which there is data available lag far behind Bulgaria.

Macedonia comes second in the region with 16,350 tonnes of the crop harvested in 2016, followed by Romania (12,350 tonnes), Bosnia and Herzegovina (3,550), and Croatia (2,940).  

Bulgaria’s harvest of the crop grew fivefold from 2015 to 2016, while by contrast, Romania saw its harvest plummet from 24,640 tonnes to 12,350 over the same period.

In 2009, the last year before 2015 for which there is available data for the country, Bulgaria harvested just 4,250 tonnes of pumpkins and squash.

The dramatic increase in the harvest of the crops largely resulted from a system of subsidies that is no longer in place.

An analysis carried out by the Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture in 2016 showed that the subsidies for crops such as pumpkins and walnuts were too generous.  

Although it is not a traditional Bulgarian holiday, Halloween has gained significant popularity among children and young people in the country, who enjoy dressing up and participating in Halloween activities.

But its growing popularity is opposed by the Bulgarian Orthodox church and traditionalist groups, who view it as a non-Orthodox and Satanist celebration.

They are also concerned that the Day of the National Enlighteners, a traditional Bulgarian holiday which honours teachers and educators on November 1, is being neglected because of interest in Halloween.

Dressing up to celebrate Halloween is banned in some Bulgarian schools. The municipality of Elin Pelin, a town near Sofia, has banned Halloween celebrations in general for the second year in a row this year.

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