Masquerade ritualsoriginated in ancient pagan times and they have been preserved to this day as part of Bulgarian folklore traditions. Mask games are mainly linked to the holidays in the period from Christmas to Easter. In the different regions of Bulgaria, masked men play in the period around New Year's Eve and during SirniZagovezni /the transition from winter to spring/ and duringTodor's Sunday /the first week of the Easter Lents/. Since the end of 2015, the custom has been part of UNESCO’s list.
The biggest festival of traditional games and mask ritual in Bulgaria and in the Balkans is the Surva Festival held in the town of Pernik near Sofia. The tradition started in 1966 and the festival acquired international status in 1985. This year, Pernik Municipality haswelcomed many guests from Bulgaria and abroad, who joined the big celebration - the 27th edition of "Surva" on January 26.
Everyone will be able to get close to the masters of the masquerade tradition. More about the preparations and highlights in the program from Mayor of Pernik,VyaraTserovska:
“Surprises are many and they are all pleasant and beautiful. We have prepared a rich program for the openingon January 26 and for the next days when celebrations culminate with a march of 105 groups of participants. 46 out of them are from our municipality. Guest groups from all over the country are more than 50. We also expect 450 participants from 8 countries - Macedonia, Slovenia, Serbia, Spain and others. I am sure that this timetoo the festival will surprise guests with something new, preserving this colorful Bulgarian tradition. Welcome to Pernik where you will be fascinated! Most of the guests, Bulgarians and foreigners, have come many times to the Surva Festival. This is the power and magic of our festival - it makes you come back again and again. One wants to be a part of this festive spirit and to believe that health, luck and goodness will be more during the year.”
On January13 and 14 the authentic Survafestivities in the villages of Pernik took place. There are many interesting events happening during these days. The houses are open and traditional bread and pastries are baked. Peopleprepare traditional dishes - everything that is the basis of Bulgarian cuisine.
After the survakari pass through the whole village, from house to house to perform their rituals, they gather in the square where a large fire is lit and people traditionally jump over it. The holiday is also an occasion for meeting with friends and relatives. What is characteristic of ritual masks used in the Pernik region?
“Masks with feathers and traditional symbols are usually used in Pernik. Everything is made of leather and natural materials, the way it was done in the past. During the festival a workshop of craftsmen of masks will be held too. These Bulgarian artists always use something new in creating their mask.
In each one, besides labor, they invest much emotion and love. Some masks are scary and bizarre. In all folklore groups there are the obligatory characters of the bride, bridegroom, father-in-law, mother-in-law, and the inherent characterswho are at the bottom of this bachelor ritual. This is common, but it is presented differently in each village.”
The guests of the city will also be able to see some interesting exhibitions related to masquerade games and they will surely fall in love with the charm and vividness of folk masks and costumes.
English: Alexander MarkovPhotos: BGNES