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.