The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO included the Bulgarian folklore winter feast “Surva” officially in its list. The organization already listed the “Bistritsa Babi”, the “nestinarstvo” (barefoot dance on smouldering embers) and the Chiprovtsi carpets (handmade carpet with two absolutely identical sides).
The ancient custom of Surva
“Surva” is ancient pagan custom for chasing the evil spirits and purifying humans for new life. The feast in Pernik (a town nearby the capital Sofia) is the first masquerade festival in Bulgaria. Its first edition was on 16th of January 1966.
The UNESCO’s acknowledgement comes in the eve of the 25th-anniversary edition of the event. According to the tradition, the custom performs during the same night annually – between 13th and 14th of January. Men with huge masks celebrate the beginning of New Year in the rhythm of chanove (traditional Bulgarian bells), bagpipes, timbals, cow-bells. Only during the festival in Pernik could be seen masks from every ethnographic region of Bulgaria and only here the guests get to know the different regional variants of masking. In 2015, the participants in the feast were 5000.
Next edition in 2016 will take place from 29th to 31st of January.