In the villages of the region of Pernik it is also called Surova. There, from time immemorial - on 13 and 14 January masquerade games are held to celebrate the New Year according to the old calendar.

Otherwise games with masks are organised on our land from Christmas to Easter. In different regions of the country masked men perform traditional rituals to chase away evil spirits and to attract good ones at different times: during the dirty days /from Christmas to Epiphany/, during the first week of Lent and over Theodore's week /the week from the first Sunday before Lent till the day of Saint Theodore/. In western Bulgaria those who take part in the games and celebrations around the New Years’ holidays are called survakari. Those, who take part in the games just before spring in the other parts of the country, are known as kukeri (or mummers).

In most places from early morning masked men dressed in coats, with their fur turned outside in, with sheep bells on their waists, go about the village. They perform ritual acts and scenes that symbolize the chase away of the dark forces of winter and portend  fertility and prosperity. Their pantomime dance, combined with the rhythmic jingle of the bells, is a survived through the millennia ritual performance of the Dionysian mysteries. It is believed that in ancient Thrace they gave birth to the ancient theatre and hence – to contemporary theater as well.

Masquerade experience is alive today and is passed from old to young. The older teach the children how to make masks and costumes and how to perform. That handing over of the tradition is extremely powerful in the region of Pernik where almost every village has its own masquerade group. Often the participants in one group are more than 50 (now women and children get disguised as well).

On December 2, 2015 the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO on its meeting in Namibia included the folk festival Surova in Pernik in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This is the fourth Bulgarian element in it after the Bistritsa Grannies, the Nestinarstvo and the carpet-making tradition of Chiprovtsi.

Photos: Аssociation "Spectar 21 vek"