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Pernik

Post code: 2300
Intl dial code: +359 76

International festival of the masquerade games

International festival of the masquerade games
International festival of the masquerade games

For ages in the night of 13th to 14th of January the lands of Pernik region have resounded with the ringing of bells, with songs, chanting and blessings for good health, longevity, rich harvests, and good luck. The participants prepared the whole year through for this holiday, known as Surva, and the entire village celebrated the holiday. It was extremely interesting for the participants to find out what preparations their friends of the adjacent village had made, in order to display better and more interesting faces (masks) than theirs.

Since 1966, the City Council started to organize and to carry out periodically regional and national festivals of the Surva games in which thousands of children, adolescents and adults participated.

For ages in the night of 13th to 14th of January the lands of Pernik region have resounded with the ringing of bells, with songs, chanting and blessings for good health, longevity, rich harvests, and good luck. The participants prepared the whole year through for this holiday, known as Surva, and the entire village celebrated the holiday. It was extremely interesting for the participants to find out what preparations their friends of the adjacent village had made, in order to display better and more interesting faces (masks) than theirs.

Since 1966, the City Council started to organize and to carry out periodically regional and national festivals of the Surva games in which thousands of children, adolescents and adults participated.

Since 1985 the National festival grew into an international festival because of the immense interest it exited in Bulgaria and in a number of European countries. Folklore groups coming from masquerade and carnival cities in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, Russia, Italy, Spain, etc. took part in the festivities.

The Pernik Festival was internationally acknowledged by the Foundation of European Carnival Cities – FECC, seated in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Since January 1st 1995 Pernik is the 43rd member of this respectable international organization and has the opportunity to be present in the wide network of festival cities around the world.

It is a unique festival that represents the entire variety of masquerade games in Bulgaria. It preserves, enriches and exhibits the most vital and stable traditions of the masquerade rites, which the Bulgarian people have kept from ancient times until present day. The festival is a sort of review of the winter and pre-spring masking customs. The masked participants are called survakari, babugeri, dzhamilari, etc. They are dressed in hides with the fur remaining on the outside, or in traditional women's costumes. All participants wear heavy strings of bells, cowbells, and rattles on their waists, and on their heads they wear grotesque masks made of feathers, wings, whole birds, animal heads, etc.

According to the traditional beliefs of the Bulgarian people, the play of the masked people is a ritual blessing for health, prosperity and welfare.

The variegated costumes, the huge fantastic masks and the many-voiced ringing of bells and rattles create a unique feeling of contiguity of the numerous spectators that come from near and far.

The festival is carried out under the aegis of the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture.



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