Surova folk feast in Pernik region

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Inscribed in 2015 (10.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© 2013 by Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria

The Surova folk feast in Pernik region takes place each year on 13 and 14 January to celebrate the New Year according to the old calendar. The core of the celebration is a popular masquerade ritual performed in villages throughout the region. On the first night, Survakari masquerade groups, consisting of men, women and children, don specially prepared masks and costumes and head towards the village centre where they light fires, and tease and play with the watching audience. Some participants adopt special roles, such as the leader, the newly-weds, the priest and the bear. Early the next morning, they gather and walk throughout the village visiting houses, where they ritually marry young couples while the bear ‘mauls’ people for good health. Hosts await their arrival with a ritual meal and gifts. After the folk feast, the Survakari distribute the gifts, often donating collected funds to orphans and poor people. The masquerade experience appeals to young people and raises their self-esteem as continuers of the tradition. Whole families engage in collecting materials for the masks and the other attributes during that entire year, with adults teaching young people and children how to make the distinctive masks and costumes.

A masquerade group in the Bulgarian village of Meshtitsa at the International Festival of masquerade games 'Surova', Pernik. The masks are made of bird wings and feathers, the costumes are made of fabric cut into fringes
Marry making of masquerade groups gathered in the center of the Bulgarian village of Yardzhilovtsi during the folk feast of Surova
'A bride and a groom' lead the group in the village of Banishte. Since the tradition requires that the host of each house gives presents to the group, the bride's bag has an inscription: 'Put inside for the poor bride'
The masquerade group in the Bulgarian village of Banishte prepares for the ritualistic tour of the village during the folk feast Surova. The characters of a drummer and a collector of gifts can be seen in the foreground
A meeting of leaders of survakar groups from two villages. They are dressed in costumes from the time of Bulgarian national revival, they cross their swords as a sign of greeting and friendship. Background - the mandatory character 'bride'
Survakars with zoomorphic and anthropomorphic masks from the masquerade group in the Bulgarian village of Elov Dol during the folk feast Surova - on their way to visit the neighbouring village
During the folk feast Surova the ritual of visiting each home is a mandatory tradition observed by the masquerade group. The 'bear' plays and dances before the hosts for health
A ritual table for the folk feast Surova to meet the masquerade children's group in the Bulgarian village of Velkovtsi. The traditional banitsa is a mandatory meal for the table
A memento from Surova masquerade group from village Velkovtsi. The leader is in the middle, dressed in a costume from the time of Bulgarian national revival, surrounded by children survakari, on the right - the 'bride and groom' and the 'priest'
Nowadays masquerade groups use very inventively modern and attractive vehicles for public demonstrations. Folk feast Surova in the Bulgarian village of Yardzhilovtsi