Bulgaria’s Surva Folk Feast Joins UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List
A UNESCO committee has inscribed Bulgaria’s Surva ('Surova') folk feast on the representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity, UNESCO announced on Wednesday.
The Surva folk feast, a masquerade ritual dating back to pagan times, is held in villages of Pernik region, south of Sofia. It takes place on 13 and 14 January to celebrate the New Year according to the Julian calendar.
On the first night of Surva, the Survakari masquerade groups put on specially prepared masks and costumes and head towards the village centre where they light fires, and tease and play with the watching audience. Early the next morning, they gather and walk throughout the village visiting houses, with hosts awaiting their arrival with a ritual meal and gifts. After the feast, Survakari distribute the gifts, often donating collected funds to orphans and poor people.
The Surva folk feast is the fourth element of traditional Bulgarian culture to be inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity after the Bistritsa Babi dancing and polyphonic singing, the Nestinarstvo fire-dancing ritual and the tradition of carpet-making in Chiprovtsi.
The Representative List includes forms of expression that testify to the diversity of the intangible heritage and raise awareness of its importance.